Talk about privilege.
UCLA freshman basketball players Cody Riley, LiAngelo Ball and Jalen Hill are hardly run-of-the-mill children. They were recruited to the UCLA not because of their academic promise, but because they were top-notch basketball players. That’s what got them their free ride at the school.
And their detention in Hangzhou China wasn’t because one of them mischievously left a store with a pack of gum without paying for it. Far from it. They were arrested for allegedly stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store. Such sunglasses typically run $600 – $2000.
And their heists went beyond that. Chinese police have surveillance footage of the three shoplifting in three, yes three, stores in a high-end shopping center. These guys were on a shoplifting spree.
Anybody else pulling this stuff in China would be in prison. But these guys avoided prison sentences because of their celebrity and the intervention of no less than the President of the United States.
“Everyone’s making it a big deal,” said LiAngelo’s father, LaVar. “It ain’t that big a deal.”
But it was a big deal. And these aren’t naïve college kids from the sticks. For example, LiAngelo’s older brother, Lonzo, is a Los Angeles Lakers point guard and his 16-year-old brother, LaMelo, is a high school sophomore who has already committed to play basketball at UCLA and has launched his own $395 Melo Ball 1 sneakers.
A suspension after the ritualistic “I’m sorry” shouldn’t let these three off the hook. Their basketball careers at UCLA shouldn’t be suspended. They should be over.