UCLA freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill have been suspended from the basketball team indefinitely after returning from a trip to China, where they were held for shoplifting.
“They will have to earn their way back,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said during a news conference Wednesday.
The UCLA players spoke at a news conference Wednesday at the UCLA basketball stadium, the first time they had spoken publicly since Nov. 7, when they were held in Hangzhou — a little more than 100 miles southwest of Shanghai — shoplifting charges.
Ball, brother of Los Angeles Lakers star Lonzo Ball, said: “I didn’t exercise my best judgment, and I’m sorry for that.”
“This does not define who I am,” he added. “My family raised me better than that.”
The three players did thank President Donald Trump for intervening in the situation, but not before Trump could send a petty tweet.
Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2017
“I’d also like to thank President Trump and the United States government for the help that they provided as well,” Ball said.
Riley said: “To President Trump and the United States government: Thank you for taking the time to intervene on our behalf. We really appreciate you helping us out.”
As anyone who has every participated in trans-Pacific flight can tell you, the jet lag is the most debilitating part of it all. So, there’s a really strong chance that LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were too exhausted, or just too worried about their future, to immediately reach out to anyone outside of their immediate and respective circles upon landing stateside.
An afternoon press conference seemed like the right time to say thank you to the president.