Former UCLA Bruins player LiAngelo Ball recently explained during an interview with the Today show that he was just “following his teammates” in China when they were caught shoplifting from several stores in a high-end mall.
LiAngelo Ball, the brother of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, appeared with his father, LaVar Ball, during the interview and offered his side of the story.
“We all went out one night, went through the malls, went to the Louis Vuitton store, and people started taking stuff and me just not thinking and being with them, I took something, too,” LiAngelo said. “We left thinking we’d just get away. You know how kids think. I didn’t realize until I got back to my hotel, I’m like ‘That was stupid.’ But by then it was too late and then sure enough, the next morning, the police came and got us.”
After hearing the interview, FOX Sports host Jason Whitlock had a different version of the story and claims LiAngelo lied during the interview.
“I know from a highly, highly reliable source that LiAngelo’s credit card was declined. That’s what triggered the shoplifting. And so, this whole thing of ‘Oh, people just started taking things and I kind of fell in behind them’ — that is bogus. His credit card declined. That triggered the shoplifting.
“And of the three kids — only one of them shoplifted from all three stores — LiAngelo Ball,” Whitlock continued. “And so, this insinuation that these other two kids — Cody Riley, Jalen Hill — that they were the ringleaders. No, LiAngelo Ball, on the Today show, with his dad sitting right there, just backed the bus over two black kids and basically blamed them and said he was just following behind them. That is not remotely accurate. His credit card declined, and he was the only of the three to shoplift from all three stores.”
The three students returned to the United States a few weeks ago and were suspended indefinitely by the university for their actions in the matter. It was reported on Monday that LaVar Ball decided to take his son off of the basketball team and it was also noted that LiAngelo would not return to UCLA. LiAngelo had not yet appeared in a game for the Bruins as the incident occurred just before the team’s regular-season opener against Georgia Tech in China.
It seems like a matter of pointing figures at this point now with LiAngelo saying he followed his teammates’ lead during the shoplifting incident and Whitlock saying that LiAngelo initiated the shoplifting.
We may never actually find out what happened during the incident, but it may not matter now that LiAngelo has left school.