UCLA basketball players return to US after Chinese release them in shoplifting case
(LOS ANGELES) -- The three UCLA basketball players accused of shoplifting in China have returned to the United States. The players were swarmed by reporters upon landing at Los Angeles International Airport Tuesday afternoon.
The players were peppered with questions from reporters and paparazzi as they made their way to a bus to be driven back to campus. They did not respond to any questions.
Earlier in the day, it was confirmed by the Pac-12 that the students had been released from their hotel, where they were being held, and were on the way home.
"The three UCLA men’s basketball student-athletes involved in the incident with authorities in Hangzhou, China are on a flight back home to Los Angeles, and the matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of the Chinese authorities," Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement.
The players involved are LiAngelo Ball, younger brother of Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill.
Scott went on to extend his personal gratitude to President Donald Trump, who told reporters today that he had spoken directly to Chinese President Xi Jinping about shoplifting allegations against the players that forced them to stay behind in Hangzhou as their teammates moved on to Shanghai.
"We want to thank the president, the White House and the U.S. State Department for their efforts towards resolution," Scott said.
Without confirming any of the alleged crimes Chinese authorities lodged against the three players, the commissioner said their return home was gratifying.
"We are all very pleased that these young men have been allowed to return home to their families and university," he said, according to the statement.
ABC News confirmed earlier today, according to a source, that the three players cleared customs at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport at around 8 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET).
The three students checked out of the hotel where they’d been staying, the Hyatt Regency Hangzhou, since they were arrested and charged last Tuesday.
Police in Hangzhou accused freshmen them of committing theft of goods at a Louis Vuitton boutique.
The alleged shoplifting became a topic of conversation between Trump, who called the situation "unfortunate," and Chinese president Xi Jinping during Trump’s tour of Asia.
“President Xi has been terrific on that subject,” Trump said.
The men were released on bail early Wednesday morning, but were required to stay in their Hangzhou hotel until the legal process was over, ESPN reported.
ABC News' Tiffany Hsieh contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.