LiAngelo Ball called himself “stupid” for shoplifting in China and said the time he spent there in a jail cell was “horrible.”
Ball and his father, LaVar Ball, spoke in an interview that aired on NBC’s “Today” show Tuesday morning, the day after the family announced that LiAngelo was withdrawing from UCLA rather than serve an indefinite suspension for the China incident, which also involved former teammates Cody Riley and Jalen Hill.
“That’s just a long time of doing nothing,” LiAngelo said of the suspension. “I’d rather be playing.”
His outspoken father added: “China already said, ‘OK, you made a bad mistake. We’re gonna drop the charges.’ That’s the punishment they gave him. … Now we’re over here, we got to serve more punishment? He apologized. What is the long process for? We only went to UCLA one-and-done to play basketball.”
The three players have admitted shoplifting from three stores inside an upscale mall in Hangzhou, China, during UCLA’s season-opening trip to play Georgia Tech in Shanghai.
“We all went out one night and went through the malls, went to a Louis Vuitton store and people started taking stuff,” LiAngelo said during the “Today” interview. “Then, me just not thinking and being with them, I took something too.
“We left just thinking we’ll get away — you know how kids think. I didn’t realize till 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.”
LiAngelo said they were in jail “for a day and a half or something like that” before posting bail.
“It was horrible,” he said. “They take your clothes, you wear whatever they have for you, a little jumpsuit or whatever. Take your shoestrings and then you just sit in a cement cell for however long. It’s just you and the other officers, and they don’t speak English.”
Now that he’s leaving the Bruins, LiAngelo will spend his time preparing for the next step in his career — and according to his father, that next step is joining older brother Lonzo Ball on the Lakers.
“I’m going to get Gelo in shape, I’m going to work him out, we’re gonna do some other things and he’s gonna be headed to the NBA,” said LaVar, whose youngest son, LaMelo Ball, is being home schooled. “All these boys gonna get on the Lakers. Watch how I do this.”