UCLA Player Arrested in China Leaves School, Preparing for NBA Draft

LiAngelo Ball, 19, has remained suspended and has not played for UCLA, prompting LaVar Ball to announce his son would leave the university and seek to enter the NBA draft next June.

UCLA basketball player LiAngelo Ball listens at a press conference at UCLA after flying back from China where he was detained on suspicion of shoplifting, in Los Angeles, Calif. / REUTERS

(Reuters) — A UCLA basketball player who was arrested for shoplifting in China and whose father later engaged in a public dispute with President Donald Trump will leave the university and prepare for the NBA draft next year, the player’s father told media on Monday.

“We learned today of LiAngelo Ball’s intention to withdraw from UCLA. We respect the decision he and his family have made, and we wish him all the best in the future,” UCLA Coach Steve Alford said in a statement released by the university.

Ball, a freshman, was arrested along with Cody Riley and Jalen Hill in November for stealing sunglasses at a Louis Vuitton store in Hangzhou, China. The UCLA team was touring China ahead of a visit by Trump, who said he intervened by personally speaking with Chinese President Xi Jingping to get the players released.

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In another tweet, Trump took sole credit for getting LiAngelo Ball out of a long-term prison sentence.

Trump on Nov. 15 asked on Twitter for the players’ gratitude, which came in a news conference later that day when they also admitted to the shoplifting and apologized.

Trump then got into a public dispute with Ball’s father, LaVar Ball, the outspoken head of a sports apparel company who has two other basketball-playing sons. LaVar Ball publicly downplayed Trump’s role in freeing his son and refused to offer the praise that the president was expecting.

The slight prompted at least seven tweets from Trump over eight days in which he called the elder Ball an “ungrateful fool” and bragged that “IT WAS ME” who got the players released, sparing them from potentially up to 10 years in a Chinese prison.

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“How can someone in such a big office be so small?” U.S. Representative Adam Schiff wrote in response on Twitter.

LiAngelo Ball, 19, has remained suspended and has not played for UCLA, prompting LaVar Ball to announce his son would leave the university and seek to enter the NBA draft next June.

“He’s not transferring to another school. The plan is now to get Gelo ready for the NBA draft,” LaVar Ball told ESPN.

“I’m not going to let UCLA take the fire out of my boy by not letting him play for two months,” Ball told the Los Angeles Times.

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The men and women’s basketball champions declined the invitation, each citing “scheduling conflicts.”

Reuters was unable to reach Ball for comment.

The oldest Ball son, Lonzo Ball, 20, also played at UCLA and was chosen second overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2017 NBA draft. The youngest brother, LaMelo Ball, 16, has verbally committed to playing for UCLA.

Read more news @ DiversityInc.com

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  • I would hope that the NBA would not draft him in support of UCLAs punishment, but we all know the NBA is going to let the bottom line sway their decision. If money can be made from this young man, he’ll be drafted. I hope his decision to leave school doesn’t end up haunting him when/if he gets injured and can no longer play.

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  • Not entirely impressed with the shoplifty kid, but, like the Trump boys, do hope he’s able to get out from under bigmouth dad’s detrimental dominance someday.

    Reply
    • The Trump “boys” (well into adulthood) have their own behavior to atone for. Trump Jr. and his Russian connections, Eric dragging his entire entourage overseas on tax-payer money. Let’s not forget both sons killing up endangered animals, just because. That’s probably just the tip of the iceberg. These two are farrrr beyond stealing sunglasses. There is a reason why they are referred to as Uday and Qusay Trump.

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