According to Chinese lawyers who spoke to Yahoo Sports, three UCLA basketball players – including LiAngelo Ball – arrested Tuesday in mainland China could face between three and 10 years in prison if convicted of shop lifting.
Officials on the ground believe players lifted from a Louis Vuitton store near the UCLA team hotel outside of Shanghai.
If you’re wondering what UCLA is doing in Asia in the first place, it so happens that the Bruins had a game against Georgia Tech on Saturday in China for the season opener.
On Tuesday, after gaining enough evidence, local law enforcement entered the team hotel where they questioned both teams, ultimately arresting three players. ESPN first reported the arrests.
According to William Nee, a Hong Kong-based researcher of the Chinese court system for Amnesty International, the players face a unique situation unlike the court system here in the U.S. They could be detained for more than a month without American-style bail before local prosecutors even decide whether to press charges.
Nee also said defendants typically have to wait 30-37 days before being officially indicted and among those indicted, Chinese prosecutors enjoy a 99.2 percent conviction rate, according to Nee’s research.
No charge has not be made, but if the players are convicted of shoplifting, by Chinese law they have to face three to 10 years.
While troubling, scary, even, LiAngelo’s father, the outspoken mastermind behind Big Baller Brand, seemed unfazed. LaVar Ball said Wednesday his son’s arrest “ain’t that big a deal.”
LaVar Ball said, "I'm going to wait until I get more intel on what's going on" before he comments on LiAngelo Ball's arrest but said he's not worried. "He'll be fine," he said. "Everyone's making it a big deal. It ain't that big a deal." pic.twitter.com/E7QuMaMsNU
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) November 8, 2017
But the UCLA athletic program was not as easygoing.
“We are aware of a situation involving UCLA student-athletes in Hangzhou, China,” UCLA said in a statement. “The University is cooperating fully with local authorities on this matter, and we have no further comment at this time.”
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said the conference was directing specifics about what transpired to UCLA.
“We are very disappointed by any situation that detracts from the positive student-athlete educational and cultural experience that this week is about,” Scott said.
“Whether in the United States or abroad, we expect our student-athletes to uphold the highest standards. We will continue to closely monitor the situation.”
The Ball’s have always had a knack for grabbing headlines, but never anything negative. How Lavar will wriggle his son out of this one remains to be seen, especially given the spotlight he has already placed on his family with his television show and bold predictions.
Lavar Ball’s dream is that all three of his sons play for the Los Angeles Lakers one day. With his oldest Lonzo manning point for the Lakers now, it’s up to LiAngelo and LaMelo to follow suit.
We’ll have to see if that journey will take a detour when we hear back from the Chinese court.