U.S. athletes released by China apologize for shoplifting, thank Trump

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UCLA head basketball coach Steve Alford said the players - LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley - have been suspended indefinitely from the team while they go through the university's disciplinary review process.

"We are all very pleased that these young men have been allowed to return home to their families and university", he said.

They were placed under house arrest at the luxury hotel and were not permitted to play in UCLA's season-opening game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai on Friday.

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The players were detained November 7, with initial reports indicating they had stolen sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store next to the team's hotel in Hangzhou.

"Our president said to Xi, 'Do you know anything about these knuckleheads that got caught allegedly stealing?'" Mr. Kelly said.

Trump said on board Air Force One on Tuesday about President Xi, "He was terrific, and they're working on [the players' release] right now". This official indicated that charges against the players have been reduced and that the case is proceeding toward a resolution. "[The Chinese] do not play games". "We also want to acknowledge UCLA's significant efforts on behalf of their student athletes". They were not on the team's return flight to the United States on Saturday. "What they did was unfortunate".

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President Trump offered the trio of UCLA basketball players busted for shoplifting in China some advice on Thursday, a day after they thanked him - at his urging - for helping to secure their release. On Monday, ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that three American men were being investigated in the eastern city of Hangzhou for alleged theft and that China and the USA were in contact over the matter.

The elder Ball has become a media personality by aggressively promoting his sons as future National Basketball Association superstars and had travelled to China on the trip to promote his Big Baller Brand shoe and apparel line.

"The relevant case involving three students has already been resolved according to law", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said without elaborating when asked at a regular briefing in Beijing about Trump's discussion of the issue with Xi.

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