President Donald Trump personally asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help resolve the case involving three UCLA basketball players, including LiAngelo Ball, who were arrested on shoplifting charges in Hangzhou, a source confirmed to ESPN’s Arash Markazi.
The White House confirmed in an email to the Washington Post, which first reported Trump’s involvement, that the president brought up the issue with Xi.
Trump raised the issue during his meeting with Xi on Saturday in Beijing, the source told ESPN. Xi promised Trump that the players would be treated fairly and expeditiously, according to the Post.
Ball and fellow freshmen Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were questioned Tuesday about allegedly stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store next to the team’s hotel in Hangzhou, where the Bruins had been staying before leaving for Shanghai to face Georgia Tech on Saturday. They were released on bail early Wednesday morning and have been staying at a lakeside hotel in Hangzhou since then.
A source told Markazi that there is surveillance footage of the players shoplifting from three stores inside a high-end shopping center, which houses Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Salvatore Ferragamo stores.
UCLA returned to the United States on Saturday without the three freshmen, sources told Markazi. Bruins coach Steve Alford declined to discuss the matter after the team’s victory over the Yellow Jackets.
An anonymous U.S. official told the Post that charges against the three players have been reduced and that the case is headed toward a resolution.