SHANGHAI (CBSLA) – Three UCLA players, including LiAngelo Ball — brother of Los Angeles Lakers star Lonzo Ball – are being investigating for shoplifting items from several high-end stores in China, according to a report.
Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of shoplifting near their team hotel in the city of Hangzhou. They were released on bail Wednesday, but remain under house arrest at their hotel in the city of Hangzhou.
On Friday night, the three freshmen were noticeably absent from UCLA’s 63-60 victory over Georgia Tech in Shanghai. The three will stay in China and not fly back to the U.S. with their teammates, according to ESPN reporter Arash Markazi.
It had initially be reported that the players were suspected of stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store. However, a source told Markazi that there is surveillance video showing them also possibly shoplifting items from two more stores in the same high-end shopping center that houses Louis Vuitton.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Thursday that there is a strong likelihood the three players will face a sentence of 20 days of house arrest and then be banned from coming to China again.
The incident began when local police Tuesday were called to the hotel where both teams were staying and inspected UCLA’s bus as players waited to depart for practice, AJC reports.
Police interviewed players from both teams before clearing three players from Georgia Tech. Ball, Riley and Hill were taken to the police station in Hangzhou, where they were kept for a number of hours before being charged.
William Nee, an expert on China for Amnesty International, said the players could be stuck in China for a long time.
“According to China’s entry and exit law, a case must be fully resolved, before the suspects are allowed to eventually go home,” Nee told CBS2 via Skype this week.
Nee said that could take anywhere from weeks to years. A shoplifting sentence in China can carry up to 10 years in prison.
During Friday night’s game, broadcaster and UCLA legend Bill Walton issued a heartfelt apology.
“I am sad, disappointed and embarrassed,” Walton said. “This is a very big deal… members of our family have displayed an appalling lack of honor, lack of respect, lack of decency… And I want to apologize right now on behalf of the human race for this travesty.”
Meanwhile, with his son under house arrest, LaVar Ball Friday hosted a promotional event in Shanghai for his Big Baller Brand. A smiling LaVar and his youngest son LaMelo posed for photos and signed autographs for fans at a BBB pop-up shop.
The Ball family is also in the midst of shooting a reality show.
LaVar had scheduled a press conference following the arrests, but later canceled it after being advised by legal counsel not to speak.
“He’ll be fine, everybody making it a big deal, it ain’t that big of a deal,” he told ESPN Wednesday.