LaVar Ball’s middle son apparently won’t be one-and-done at UCLA as his father has long promised.
LiAngelo Ball instead is leaving the school without ever playing in a regular season game.
Angry over the indefinite suspension LiAngelo received for shoplifting in China last month, LaVar has decided to remove his son from the UCLA basketball team and withdraw him from the university, TMZ first reported Monday. The Ball family patriarch subsequently confirmed the news to ESPN on Monday afternoon.
LaVar Ball told ESPN he has pulled LiAngelo Ball from UCLA. "We are exploring other options with Gelo," LaVar said. "He's out of there."
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) December 4, 2017
UCLA coach Steve Alford released a brief statement hours later that indicated he had learned LiAngelo was leaving earlier Monday. Alford added, “We respect the decision he and his family have made and we wish him all the best in the future.”
LiAngelo Ball and fellow UCLA freshmen Jalen Hill and Cody Riley sparked an international incident when they stole items from three high-end stores in a mall adjacent to where the Bruins were staying in Hangzhou. They were detained in China for eight days before the charges were ultimately dropped and they received permission to return home.
The morning after the three players returned home from China, UCLA announced it had indefinitely suspended them while the school’s athletic department and office of student conduct further reviewed the shoplifting incident and assessed what punishment it merited. LiAngelo, Hill and Riley have missed UCLA’s first eight games of the season and have not been allowed to practice or travel with the Bruins.
LiAngelo, the younger brother of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball and one of three sons of sneaker entrepreneur and outspoken basketball dad LaVar Ball, is easily the best known of the UCLA trio. He struck a remorseful tone last month in his only public comments since the incident, acknowledging guilt and thanking those who helped get them home safely.
“I’m sorry for stealing from the stores in China,” he said. “I didn’t exercise my best judgment and I was wrong for that. I apologize to my family, my coaches, my teammates and UCLA for letting you down. I also apologize to the people of China for causing them so much trouble. I’m a young man, however, it’s not an excuse for making such a stupid decision.”
While LiAngelo has the option of transferring to another college, it has always been the family’s intent for him to pursue professional basketball next spring. LiAngelo’s outside shooting would be an asset at the college level, but the swingman is not considered an NBA prospect.
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