UCLA basketball players flying home after Trump asks Chinese leader for help
Nov 15 2017 by Desiree Burns
Ball - who is the younger brother of Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball - Riley and Hill were forced to stay in their hotel and miss the game. The team was in Shanghai to face Georgia Tech in their season opener on November 4.
Trump spoke to reporters in the Philippines as he prepared to return to Washington after a almost two-week visit to Asia that included an earlier stop in Beijing. U.S. Chief of Staff John F. Kelly has contacted the families of the players and also spoken with UCLA coach Steve Alford. They will not take questions from the media, AP reported.
If the three Bruins are going to be detained in China for another two weeks, they could miss up to five games before they get back on US soil, missing contests against Central Arkansas, South Carolina State, Creighton, Baylor/Wisconsin and UC Irvine. "And hopefully everything is going to work out", Trump said on board Air Force One, before word of the trio's return appeared.
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The Wall Street Journal reported earlier Tuesday that the players had been seen boarding a plane bound for LAX. They were released on bail over the weekend and could have been required to stay in China for more than a week. During the questioning, Ball, Hill and Riley were accompanied by interpreters and UCLA team representatives, according to ESPN.
Cody Riley, Jalen Hill, and LiAngelo Ball (the brother of L.A. Lakers star rookie Lonzo Ball, and the son of entrepreneur LaVar Ball - who has become a favorite of ESPN and Saturday Night Live for what many see as over-the-top promotion of his sons) are headed back to the US with the matter reportedly having been resolved.
The team's trip to China would show how sport "can play a role to improve the world by having peaceful, friendly exchanges between people", Commissioner Scott had said prior to the incident.