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LiAngelo Ball and UCLA shoplifters stuck in China get an assist from… Trump?

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UCLA played Georgia Tech in a college basketball game in Shanghai on Saturday, in a contest that UCLA won 63-60. But overshadowing the on-court action was what happened off the court last Tuesday, when three UCLA freshmen — including LiAngelo Ball, son of the outspoken LaVar Ball and younger brother of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball — were arrested for shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store in Shanghai. Not only did the three sit out Saturday’s game, but they stayed behind in China while the rest of the team flew back home.

The incident happened a day before President Donald Trump landed in Beijing to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping. The most headline-grabbing aspect of this saga? As the Washington Post reports:

Trump raised the arrests during a two-day state visit to Beijing, arriving a day after the three freshman players were accused of stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store next to the team’s hotel…. After Trump raised the matter, Xi promised to look into the case and ensure that the players are treated fairly and expeditiously, said a U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

Sounds like a good use of political capital.

UPDATE, 3/7:

‘Only sorry they got caught’: New details about LiAngelo Ball and UCLA players arrested in China


Jiayun Feng

Jiayun was born in Shanghai, where she spent her first 20 years and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Fudan University. Interested in writing for a global audience, she attended the NYU Graduate School of Journalism for its Global & Joint Program Studies, which allowed her to pursue a journalism career along with her interest in international relations. She has previously interned for Sixth Tone and Shanghai Daily.