Back in 1992, I had a friend get fired from Herman’s Sports at a mall in New Jersey because he got caught stealing sneakers and apparel. His family had money, lived in a quiet suburban enclave that was multicultural and he enjoyed the perks of being in a two-parent household.
He didn’t need those sneakers and sweatsuits, he just wanted them. He’s lucky the police were never called. Though we like to think we can discern otherwise, it is impossible to predict who will do something boneheaded. Especially when they're young, impulsive and nebulous to the consequences of our actions.
Today, three UCLA basketball players are returning to the United States.
LiAngelo Ball and the other UCLA players are reportedly returning to the U.S. after being arrested in China for shoplifting.
They’re indeed luckier than my old larcenous friend. Last week, a group of players that included LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill got caught shoplifting from Louis Vuitton store and two other high-end establishments in Hangzhou. On Monday, it was announced that President Donald Trump requested assistance from China President Xi Jinping.
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott released a statement Tuesday morning confirming their release:
"The three UCLA men's basketball student-athletes involved in the incident with authorities in Hangzhou, China are on a flight back home to Los Angeles, and the matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of the Chinese authorities. We are all very pleased that these young men have been allowed to return home to their families and university.
"We are grateful for the role that our Chinese hosts played, and for the courtesy and professionalism of the local authorities. We also want to acknowledge UCLA's significant efforts on behalf of their student-athletes. Finally, we want to thank the President, the White House and the U.S. State Department for their efforts towards resolution."
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A U.S. official who spoke anonymously told the Post that Xi promised to look into the case and ensure the players be treated fairly and expeditiously, adding that the charges against them had already been reduced and the case was moving toward a resolution.
As it stands, it impossible to know what to expect from UCLA or the NCAA as far as disciplinary action is concerned, but there is a possibility that one or all involved will see the hammer drop hard when they get back stateside.