The UCLA basketball team is heading home to Los Angeles from China without star freshman LiAngelo Ball, who is accused of shoplifting and detained. And it may be a while before Ball rejoins them, as new evidence in his case has surfaced.
ESPN is reporting that there is surveillance footage of Ball and fellow UCLA freshmen players Jalen Hill and Cody Riley shoplifting from three stores inside a retail center near the team hotel in Hangzhou, China. The players have spoken with police and are currently confined to their hotel while the investigation continues.
China’s justice system moves slowly, but its conviction rates are high (as in 99 percent for shoplifting offenses) and the penalties are often stiff. In this case, players could face up to 10 years in prison.
However, ESPN claims that the situation will likely take “a week or two” to be resolved. Ball is part of the fabled basketball family that includes father LaVar (whose Ball in the Family reality show airs on Facebook and who is is regularly parodied by Kenan Thompson on Saturday Night Live ); Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball; and high school basketball sensation LaMelo Ball, who is already committed to UCLA.
Ball, Hill and Riley are accused of allegedly stealing from a Louis Vuitton store next to the team’s hotel in Hangzhou. LaVar Ball has been quoted in reports that the incident “ain’t that big of a deal.”