Three UCLA players (LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley, and Jalen Hill) were arrested on November 7 by Chinese police officers for shoplifting in Shanghai, China. This poor choice of action by these three young men has created a “shame grenade” and it sprayed judgment-filled shrapnel across the internet.
Whenever this kind of “social-explosion” happens, it creates this unerasable bad image for the party of the accused. Ball, Riley, and Hill should have thought over their “Oceans Eleven” shoplifting plan before they entered that Louis Vuitton store. They’ve practically ruined their chances of playing college basketball this year, or even worse, their whole career. Because of this act of crime that is typically committed by young high school students who forget to bring their money to the mall, they are now in a pit. A pit so deep that even Lavar Ball, father of LiAngelo Ball and the CEO of the Big Baller Brand company, can’t save them.
So, the question that needs to be asked, the same question that Shanghai officers have screamed across the interrogation room table to the three young men already, is was it really worth it? Were those overpriced sunglasses worth ruining your chances of becoming an NCAA star?
We’ve all done something sketchy in the past that our grandmothers wouldn’t be most fond of, like taking something that doesn’t belong to us or even getting caught smoking pot in our parent’s basement and immediately denying it afterward. It happens, we all do dumb things. In the case of the three UCLA student-athletes though, it was a mistake that should have never happened. The fact that these valuable pieces of a historically successful basketball program were walking around a foreign country with ZERO surveillance from any school official, is unprofessional and straight up moronic. It seems that there is a need for better supervision of students in foreign lands. If UCLA faculty had better techniques of monitoring these athletes overseas, this media disaster wouldn’t have happened.
Besides the lack of supervision, these students shouldn’t have committed this crime in the first place. They had so much going for them: having a position on one of the best basketball teams, scholarships, and in the case of Liangelo Ball, very rich parents. It shocked me that these students didn’t keep these important things in mind before doing something so stupid and childish. Becuase of this lack of matureness, they are now, sadly, labeled criminals. Just like O.J Simpson after his release from prison, they will now have to prove to the world that they can become normal citizens again; which is a hard spot to be in for anyone trying to bounce back from a criminal conviction.
After the crazy week following the arrest, the students were released from the hotel that they were stuck in after posting bail and then boarded a plane back to Los Angeles. A press conference was held by the three boys shortly after arriving back into the states and they apologized for there actions. Suspension from the program until further notice was the punishment for the athletes; a light punishment in the eyes of Chinese criminal law.
The future of further criminal prosecution by the Chinese government seems to be still in the air, but who knows what will happen.
Will the three young ballplayers make a comeback and prove to the college basketball community that they are worthy of having the responsibility of traveling on the road with a team again? Or will they fall back into the pit they were just in and never see the light of stardom again?
But hey, if they do happen to see the light again, at least they got a nice pair of Louis Vuitton sunglasses to block out the criticism.