UCLA suspends Ishmael Adams after alleged robbery of Uber driver’s phone

UCLA defensive back Ishmael Adams during the Bruins' win over Arizona State on Sept. 25.
(Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)

Defensive back Ishmael Adams has been suspended indefinitely from UCLA’s football team following his arrest on suspicion of robbery.

Coach Jim Mora announced the suspension after practice Tuesday, five days before the Bruins’ season opener Saturday against Virginia at the Rose Bowl.

Adams, a senior who has started 26 consecutive games for the Bruins, was arrested early Sunday morning after allegedly stealing a cellphone from an Uber driver. Adams was released early Tuesday morning on $100,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear in court Sept. 22.

The district attorney’s office had not received the case as of Tuesday afternoon, according to department spokesman Ricardo Santiago. Once the case is received, a decision will be made on what, if any, charges will be filed.


Mora would not say what might be required for Adams to return to the team. “As facts become available, we’ll make our decision as we go,” the coach said.

Adams was a valuable playmaker last season, returning two interceptions and one kickoff for touchdowns.

But he has had a troubled last few weeks. He lost his starting cornerback spot to Marcus Rios during training camp. He was also going to be held out of the opener, a disciplinary measure that preceded the arrest, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke anonymously because of the sensitive nature of the topic.

The arrest caught Adams’ teammates by surprise.

“You never want that to happen to a teammate,” tackle Caleb Benenoch said. “Life goes on. We’ll play this football game. We wish the best for him.”

Nose guard Kenny Clark said the team would prevent Adams’ situation from being a distraction.

“You just can’t blink,” Clark said. “You got to keep going forward and realize there is a game this Saturday. We can’t let that mess up our focus. Just got to keep playing and hope for the best, honestly.”

Mora said he took Adams’ situation personally.

“As a football coach, as a parent, you hate to see young men get themselves into bad situations,” Mora said.

“We consistently, as staff, as a university, as a support group stress the importance of making good decisions to our young men,” he added. “We talk about it on a consistent basis. You hope with all your heart that it sinks in, but you don’t always know.”

The rapid response of social media is part of those discussions.

“These young men are in the bright eye of the media because of what they do,” Mora said. “When they do make mistakes, it is magnified. It tarnishes their reputation, and certainly tarnishes to some extent the reputation of this program.”

While Adams had lost his starting cornerback job, he was the team’s nickel back in passing situations. UCLA played more nickel defense than base defense last season.

Mora said there were a few players who could replace Adams, including Adarius Pickett and Octavius Spencer.

The Bruins have a handful of players who could handle kick returns, including receiver Mossi Johnson and linebacker Myles Jack on kickoffs and Johnson and Randall Goforth on punts.

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