UCLA basketball players flying home after Trump asks Chinese leader for help

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UCLA Athletics announced Tuesday that the three freshmen accused of shoplifting have boarded a flight back to Los Angeles.

Trump Chief of Staff John F. Kelly has already been in touch with the families of the three players as well as university officials including UCLA coach Steve Alford.

The case garnered additional attention because LiAngelo Ball is the brother of Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball, and because the timing of the arrests coincided with Trump's visit. "Finally, we want to thank the President, the White House and the U.S. State Department for their efforts towards resolution".

With the players stranded in China and at the mercies of the Chinese legal system, President Trump reached out to China's leader to ask him to look into the case, according to the Washington Post.

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The three basketball players from the University of California, Los Angeles, were detained by police on November 7 in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou over allegations of shoplifting.

Trump spoke to reporters in the Philippines as he prepared to return to Washington after a almost two-week visit to Asia that included an earlier stop in Beijing.

"It's a very, very rough situation with what happened to them", Trump said.

"He's been terrific", Trump said, in an apparent reference to Xi. "They do not play games".

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The rest of the UCLA team returned to Los Angeles last Saturday without the three.

LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were arrested and questioned about the alleged theft last Tuesday, and were released on bail Wednesday morning.

Since the matter did not occur on the court, it would be up to UCLA whether the players will be punished, Scott said.

ESPN reported that there is surveillance footage of the players shoplifting, but USA official told The Washington Post that the charges were reduced.

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