The three UCLA basketball freshmen arrested for shoplifting in China thanked President Donald Trump for his assistance and expressed remorse for their actions in a brief press conference on Wednesday.
LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley, and Jalen Hill were arrested on Nov. 8 after being accused of stealing designer sunglasses in Hangzhou, and they faced potentially stiff prison sentences.
Trump learned of the saga while in Beijing, and he asked Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to intercede. The players, who had been traveling with their team and were detained in their hotel in Hangzhou, were allowed to return to Los Angeles, and the PAC-12 conference released a statement that the matter had been resolved to the satisfaction of Chinese authorities.
Trump tweeted earlier Wednesday about the saga, wondering—seemingly sarcastically—whether the players would thank him, saying, “they were headed for 10 years in jail!”
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
The players each spoke in turn, all stating they regretted their actions and apologizing. Riley sighed deeply after mentioning Trump.
“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,” he said before sighing.
Ball said he had exercised poor judgment and said he had been raised better than his actions showed.
“I would also like to thank President Trump and the United States government for the help that they provided as well,” Ball said.
Hill said he hoped the saga would help him become a better person and also thanked Trump and the government for their intercession.
UCLA head coach Steve Alford has said the three freshmen are “indefinitely suspended” from the program for their conduct.