‘Thank you President Trump’? – US leader hints at UCLA gratitude for negotiating release
Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2017
President Trump said he personally negotiated with Chinese President Xi Jinping last week for the release of LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley, who were detained before their annual season-opening Pacific-12 game against Georgia Tech in Hangzhou last week.
“Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!” Trump tweeted on Wednesday.
Trump said on board Air Force One on Tuesday about President Xi, "He was terrific, and they're working on [the players’ release] right now. And hopefully everything is going to work out."
"What they did was unfortunate. You know, you're talking about very long prison sentences. They [the Chinese authorities] do not play games."
Police reportedly came to the players' hotel and took them for questioning for “stealing from a Louis Vuitton store next to the UCLA basketball team's hotel in Hangzhou.”
During questioning, Ball, Hill and Riley were accompanied by interpreters and UCLA team representatives, before being released on bail.
The team's trip to China would show how sport "can play a role to improve the world by having peaceful, friendly exchanges between people,” PAC-12 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott had said prior to the incident. "We're happy the young men from UCLA and Georgia Tech will have a chance to experience that and I'm sure that will leave an indelible mark."