The students admitted to shoplifting at a UCLA press conference Wednesday morning. They went on to thank the Chinese government for treating them well, President Trump and the U.S. government for intervening and the other people that helped them through the situation. They also apologized for their actions.
"I'd also like everyone to know that this does not define who I am. My family raised me better than that and I'm going to make myself a better person from hereon out," Ball said. He and his teammates read brief statements but did not take questions.
In addition to having their passports revoked, the trio has been suspended indefinitely from the UCLA basketball program.
"These are good young men who have exercised an inexcusable lapse of judgment," UCLA coach Steve Alford said. "My expectation is that they will work hard to demonstrate why they deserve to be a part of this program."
"The total bail amount was approximately 22 hundred US dollars," said UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero. "The students had to surrender their passports, and agree to travel restrictions."
The bailout charges were subsequently refunded by the Chinese government.
Guerrero said the students shoplifted during their designated "free-time" on their first full day in Shanghai, November 6th. They brought the items back to the hotel, and the Shanghai police tracked them down at their hotel the next day.
UCLA students have mixed feelings toward the arrest of their basketball players.
"Obviously, it is very surprising and upsetting. But you cannot blame them too much. They are kids, and they are on a trip with a big team," UCLA student Jack Kearns said. "But there could be some big consequences from it."
UCLA student Christopher Hernandez said "they hold bigger titles of representing. They should have conscience of they are not supposing to do these."
Despite the high stakes, Lavar Ball, LiAngelo Ball's father, was not worried. While in China, Lavar Ball told ESPN Reporter Arash Markazi, "He'll be fine. Everyone's making it a big deal. It ain't that big a deal." Lavar Ball was ready to support his son in his first game as a Bruin and to promote the family brand, Big Baller Brand.
USC US-China Institute Director Clayton Dube told Annenberg Media on the day of arrest that the Chinese government probably does not want this to be an irritant in the US-China affairs. He said if these basketball players are guilty and apologize quickly that "an administrative decision [would] be made and the players will be allowed to leave." Dube also said the punishment depended on the value of stolen goods.
Chinese people are not happy with the solution of the case on Weibo, a Chinese social media. They say the players were afforded special treatment because they were foreigners.
"From the beginning to the end, the UCLA players stealing case is a big slap to the face of the magical realism of this Chinese society. It basically tells us you can do whatever you want to do when you are a celebrity. You can ignore laws when you are rich. Foreigners, especially Americans, can act recklessly in China. From the beginning to the end, only pitful Chinese fans are hoping for the justice. Ball's father and those officials knew from the right beginning that it is 'no big deal.' Stop dreaming."—"Reinhard-The-Paradox" (Weibo Handle)
"Foreigners are still special today. How could UCLAs are freed and back home with nothing punished after they stole luxurious goods. If they were Chinese, they would be put sentenced in jail for years. It seems foreigners are still superior." — "Ins_Boomshakalaka_jj" (Weibo Handle)
Before the players were spotted boarding a Delta flight headed for Los Angeles, it was unclear how long they would have to stay in China. President Trump told reporters he had a long conversation with the Chinese President Xi Jinping about the players' cases while on his two-day state visit to the Chinese capital. It is unclear if Trump is the reason for the release of the players.
This post was updated at 4:50pm PST with statements from the UCLA press conference held on November 15, 2017.
This post was updated at 5:50 p.m. PST with reactions from Chinese social media and UCLA students and a quote from the director of the USC US-China Institute. Reporter Ruby Yuan contributed to this story on November 14, 2017.