The three UCLA basketball players detained last week in China for shoplifting were set to fly back home on Tuesday, just a day after it was discovered that President Donald Trump requested assistance from China President Xi Jinping.
As first reported to the Wall Street Journal, LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were seen checking into a Los Angeles-bound Delta flight at Shanghai's Pudong International Airport. 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."
During a two-day trip to China to meet with Chinese leadership, President Trump, according to the, brought up the topic of the three UCLA players being detained for allegedly stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store in Hangzhou. 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.
The rest of UCLA's players returned to the U.S. on Saturday following the team's victory over Georgia Tech in Shanghai without the three detained freshmen, who were forced to wait out the legal process at their lakeside hotel.