UCLA Basketball Stars Goaded Into Thanking Trump for Release From China After Shoplifting Arrest

“Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!” president tweeted on Wednesday

The UCLA basketball players who were arrested in China for shoplifting thanked President Donald Trump for aiding their release at a press conference on Wednesday.

“I take full responsibility for the mistake I have made of shoplifting,” said Cody Riley, who was one of the three players detained in China last week, along with LiAngelo Ball and Jalen Hill. “I know this goes beyond me letting my school down — I’ve let the entire country down.”

“To President Trump and the entire United States government, thank you for taking the time to intervene on our behalf,” he added, according to NBC News.

The statement followed a tweet from Trump publicly asking if he would receive gratitude for the players’ freedom: “Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!” he wrote.

“I’m extremely sorry to those who I let down but I’m also thankful for all the love, help and support they provided,” said Ball, the younger brother of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball and son of LaVar Ball. “And I take full responsibility for my action.”

The trio was arrested one day before Trump arrived in China to meet with President Xi Jinping. Trump said he had a “great” conversation with the Chinese leader and was hopeful for the players’ release.

Ball, Riley and Hill were later released and arrived home on Tuesday. They have been suspended indefinitely while the UCLA athletic department and student conduct office review the incident.

According to the Washington Post, the sunglasses from the Louis Vuitton store in Hangzhou that were stolen are priced at or around 4,900 yuan ($750). In accordance with Chinese law, anyone stealing goods worth between 4,000 and 7,000 yuan faces between one and two years in jail, although the sentence can be mitigated if they confess, show remorse and pay compensation.

UCLA beat Georgia Tech, 63-60, in Shanghai on Friday in its opening game without the three freshmen.