Big Ballers don’t lie.
According to ESPN’s latest report on UCLA’s men’s basketball team, LaVar Ball was telling the truth when he went toe to toe with Donald Trump.
BSO and ESPN:
Among the new details that have emerged: what the players stole from the other two stores besides the sunglasses from Louis Vuitton; that the players were required to leave the police station multiple times to return the items they stole to all three stores; that one player hid a pair stolen sunglasses in UCLA head coach Steve Alford’s hotel room; how UCLA and Pac-12 ficials bailed the players out jail without committing an NCAA violation; how charges were dropped, the bail refunded and the players’ passports returned two days before White House chief staff John Kelly called the players to inform them that President Donald Trump was working on their release; how UCLA appeased Chinese authorities by keeping the players in China for 72 hours after the rest the team had returned to Los Angeles; and why school ficials thought it wise to thank Trump and Kelly while still unsure the impact their efforts.
Three UCLA freshmen, Ball (18 years old at the time), Riley (19) and Hill (17), walked to Pinghai Road, where they entered the Louis Vuitton store shortly after sunset, made their way to the second floor and looked at a display sunglasses. Ball attempted to buy a pair that retailed for $730, but his credit card was declined, not an uncommon occurrence for people on a trip who had not alerted their credit card companies their travels.
Ball, Riley and Hill left the store and talked outside before re-entering a few minutes later. The players returned to the second floor, and each took a pair glasses and exited without paying. The trio then walked across Pinghai Road to a mall with more affordable retail stores such as Uniqlo, Zara and H&M and took more sunglasses, these the $15 variety, from a local boutique store before walking into H&M and snagging a 5-pack beaded bracelets retailing for $6. When Ball, Riley and Hill made the short walk around the street corner back to the Hyatt, the three freshmen had shoplifted from three stores in a span 90 minutes.
Donald Trump first found out about the situation, according to The New York Times, when members his staff saw it on CNN just before Trump’s dinner with the president China, Xi Jinping, in Beijing on Thursday. Trump would later tell reporters on Tuesday, Nov. 14, that he first heard about the situation “two days ago,” at which point he personally asked the Chinese president to look into the matter. The White House did not respond to requests to clear up the timeline, but UCLA sources say they didn’t become aware Trump’s involvement until Sunday when White House chief staff John Kelly called the players to say that Trump was intervening on their behalf and that he was optimistic a quick resolution. A Pac-12 source, who was not present for the actual call from Kelly, confirmed the UCLA sources’ description the timeline.
“The situation was already resolved by the time we heard about Trump’s involvement,” one team source said. “That’s not to take away from the fact that he got involved, but the players already had their passports back and their flights booked to go home Tuesday night when Gen. Kelly called the players.”
In a New York Times story headlined “How Trump Helped Liberate UCLA ‘Knuckleheads’ from China,” Kelly said Trump’s intervention, as well as efforts by State Department diplomats, led to the reduction the charges to the equivalent misdemeanors as well as the release the three players to their hotel where they were placed under temporary house arrest.
“The players were already checked into the hotel before the public discovered they were arrested,” a team source said. “They also were not under house arrest. It was our decision to keep them at the hotel until the situation was resolved. The charges were dropped, they weren’t reduced, and that happened two days before we heard from Gen. Kelly.”