LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Three UCLA basketball players who had been detained in China on suspicion of shoplifting admitted on Wednesday that they stole items from three stores, and they thanked U.S. President Donald Trump for his help in winning their release.
The three players – LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill – remain suspended from the University of California, Los Angeles, basketball team indefinitely, coach Steve Alford told a news conference.
All three apologized for their actions and thanked Trump for helping secure their release by raising the issue with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit, in their first public comments since being detained.
“I am embarrassed and ashamed for disappointing my family, teammates, coaches and the entire UCLA community,” Riley told reporters. “To President Trump and the United States government, thank you for taking the time to intervene on our behalf. We really appreciate you helping us out.”
Trump on Wednesday morning said the players should be grateful for his involvement.
“Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!” he wrote on Twitter.
The players landed at Los Angeles International Airport on a flight from Shanghai on Tuesday evening.
Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by