President Trump lobbied for LiAngelo Ball and UCLA teammates, according to White House

Chinese lawyers agreed on one thing last week when discussing the complicated case of three UCLA basketball players arrested for shoplifting in Hangzhou, China, where they were visiting to play a game against Georgia Tech.

The quickest path to leniency and expediency through the strict and arbitrary Chinese criminal justice system was simple: Have President Donald Trump lobby Chinese president Xi Jinping during Trump’s visit last week to the country.

“President Trump can beg mercy to his Chinese counterpart,” Wen Yu, a lawyer based out of South China city of Guangzhou, told Yahoo Sports.

Trump probably didn’t “beg” for anything, but the Washington Post reported Monday that he did raise the issue with Xi, according to spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Trump “personally” asked Xi “to help resolve the case,” the Post reported, citing an unnamed U.S. official. Xi reportedly said he would “look into the case and ensure the players are treated fairly and expeditiously.” That same official said the charges have been “reduced.”

See more from the president's trip: 

21 PHOTOS
President Trump, Melania Trump with Chinese President Xi Jinping
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President Trump, Melania Trump with Chinese President Xi Jinping
U.S. President Donald Trump, right, and Xi Jinping, China's president, greet attendees waving American and Chinese national flags during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. The White House expects to announce upwards of $250 billion in business deals in China this week, an administration official said -- exactly the sort of U.S. jobs-based diplomacy that Trump�likes to deliver when traveling abroad. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. first lady Melania visit the Forbidden City with China� President Xi Jinping and China� First Lady Peng Liyuan in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. first lady Melania visit the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping leave after an opera performance at the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania enjoy an opera performance with China's President Xi Jinping at the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. first lady Melania visit the Forbidden City with China's President Xi Jinping and China's First Lady Peng Liyuan in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump looks at first lady Melania Trump next to Chinese President Xi Jinping as they tour the Conservation Scientific Laboratory of the Forbidden City in Beijing, China November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Andy Wong/Pool
U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. first lady Melania visit the Forbidden City with China?s President Xi Jinping and China?s First Lady Peng Liyuan in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping tour the Conservation Scientific Laboratory of the Forbidden City in Beijing, China November 8, 2017. Looking on is Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan at left and U.S. first lady Melania Trump at right. REUTERS/Andy Wong/Pool
U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. first lady Melania visit the Forbidden City with China's President Xi Jinping and China's First Lady Peng Liyuan in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump, first lady Melania and China's President Xi Jinping pose with opera performers at the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. first lady Melania visit the Forbidden City with China's President Xi Jinping and China's First Lady Peng Liyuan in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
US President Donald Trump tours the Conservation Scientific Laboratory of the Forbidden City in Beijing on November 8, 2017. US President Donald Trump toured the Forbidden City with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on November 8 as he began the crucial leg of an Asian tour intended to build a global front against North Korea's nuclear threats. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Andy Wong (Photo credit should read ANDY WONG/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive on Air Force One in Beijing on November 8, 2017. US President Donald Trump arrived in Beijing on November 8 for the critical leg of his Asia tour to drum up an uncompromising, global front against the nuclear weapons ambitions of the 'cruel dictatorship' in North Korea. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / THOMAS PETER (Photo credit should read THOMAS PETER/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump takes part in a welcoming ceremony with China's President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
U.S. President Donald Trump takes part in a welcoming ceremony at the Great hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
U.S. President Donald Trump takes part in a welcoming ceremony with China's President Xi Jinping in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Xi Jinping, China's president, left, and U.S. President Donald Trump look on during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. The White House expects to announce upwards of $250 billion in business deals in China this week, an administration official said -- exactly the sort of U.S. jobs-based diplomacy that Trump�likes to deliver when traveling abroad. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Xi Jinping, China's president, left, gestures while standing next to U.S. President Donald Trump, during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. The White House expects to announce upwards of $250 billion in business deals in China this week, an administration official said -- exactly the sort of U.S. jobs-based diplomacy that Trump�likes to deliver when traveling abroad. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 09: The convoy of US President Donald Trump makes its way through Tiananmen Square before the welcome ceremony on November 9, 2017 in Beijing, China. At the invitation of Chineses President Xi Jinping, U.S President Donald Trump is to pay a state visit to China from November 8 to 10. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
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The three freshman players, LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley, are accused of shoplifting sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store in a high-end mall near the team hotel early last week. ESPN has reported there is surveillance video of them also stealing from two additional stores.

LiAngelo Ball is the younger brother of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball and the son of outspoken basketball entrepreneur LaVar Ball. The flamboyant self-promoter accompanied the team to China to film his reality television show and briefly open a couple of outlet stores to sell the family’s Big Baller Brand sneakers.

Like Trump, LaVar Ball exudes self-confidence, runs a family business and rarely steers clear of publicity, but he’s been mostly quiet on this issue.

Maybe LaVar is being pragmatic for the sake of LiAngelo and the others. Maybe he is saving it all for his reality show.

Or maybe he knew Donald Trump said enough.

LaVar and The Donald, working together to spring LiAngelo out of a Shanghai jail in a buddy movie that is so very 2017.

The three men were detained by local authorities after some 20 police officeRs came to the hotel and interviewed players on both teams. They were released from detention within 48 hours, but are noW under a form of house arrest, confined to the Hyatt Hotel. The rest of the UCLA team left the country after defeating Georgia Tech on Saturday in Shanghai. At least one representative from the school has remained behind, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“We’re doing fine,” a UCLA associate athletic director told the Times when he was spotted heading into an elevator with the three players on Sunday. The players had no comment.

See more of LiAngelo Ball and his famous family: 

14 PHOTOS
The Ball family -- LaVar, Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo
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The Ball family -- LaVar, Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo
CHINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 02: (L-R) Lonzo Ball, LaMelo Ball, LiAngelo Ball and LaVar Ball attend Melo Ball's 16th Birthday on September 2, 2017 in Chino, California. (Photo by Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for Crosswalk Productions )
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 23: Lonzo Ball #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers talks to the media during a press conference at their training faculity in June 23, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 02: LaVar Ball holds courd during The Los Angeles Lakers game against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center on October 2, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 01: UCLA guard LiAngelo Ball (15) looks on during an college exhibition basketball game between the Cal State Los Angeles and the UCLA Bruins on November 1, 2017, at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 07: LaMelo Ball, brother of Lonzo Ball #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers, walks off the court after shooting baskets as part of a promotion during a timeout of a 2017 Summer League game between the Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 7, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Clippers won 96-93 in overtime. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 02: Lonzo Ball #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the first half of a preseason game against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center on October 2, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 13: (L-R) Ice Cube and Lavar Ball compete in the Four Point Challenge during week eight of the BIG3 three on three basketball league at Staples Center on August 13, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 01: (L-R) LaMelo and LiAngelo Ball attend the game between the UCLA Bruins and the Washington Huskies at Pauley Pavilion on March 1, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 13: LaVar Ball sits with his son LaMelo as they watch games during week eight of the BIG3 three on three basketball league at Staples Center on August 13, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/BIG3/Getty Images)
JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE - 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' airs every weeknight at 11:35 p.m. EST and features a diverse lineup of guests that includes celebrities, athletes, musical acts, comedians and human-interest subjects, along with comedy bits and a house band. The guests for Monday, June 12 included Diane Keaton ('AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Diane Keaton'), Lonzo and LaVar Ball and musical guest Phoenix. (Randy Holmes/ABC via Getty Images) LAVAR BALL, LONZO BALL, JIMMY KIMMEL
BROOKLYN, NY - JUNE 22: Lonzo Ball the number two pick selected by the Los Angeles Lakers talks to the media at the 2017 NBA Draft on June 22, 2017 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Chris Marion/NBAE via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 22: Lonzo Ball walks on stage with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being drafted second overall by the Los Angeles Lakers during the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center on June 22, 2017 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 22: LaVar Ball, father of second overall pick Lonzo Ball of the Los Angeles Lakers, speaks to media during the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center on June 22, 2017 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
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Neither UCLA, the U.S. Consulate or Chinese officials have provided any comment. It is unknown how long the players must remain in China, or if their case is even close to resolved. Most experts consider it unlikely they would now be sent back to detention.

Chinese lawyers say by being released from detainment and sent to their hotel, the players have already received favorable treatment unlikely to be afforded to a Chinese citizen.

“It is quite unusual, but not as unusual for Westerners,” Wen Yu said.

Wen Yu previously said that it would require government intervention for the Chinese legal system to show leniency. In China, local authorities can detain a suspected criminal for up to 37 days before even determining if they will be charged with a crime. There is no official system for American-style bail. And there is a fear from officials to show a double standard for Americans suspected of a crime.

“Without instructions from above, they [would] not let the students out easily because the authorities want to prove foreigners are treated equally here,” Wen Yu said.

That the players were released so quickly also speaks to the unusual nature of the case.

“Generally, the process is slow,” said Teng Baio, a visiting professor at the U.S.-Asia Law Institute at New York University. Getting sent to the hotel so quickly is “a very good sign” for the players, Teng Baio added.

It is uncertain what charges the three players are dealing with. No one knows the amount of goods stolen or if, indeed, there are multiple cases of shoplifting. The Chinese authorities are not even required to release that information to the defendants, lawyers say.

The Chinese could charge them with anything from robbery (a more serious crime that could command prison time) to the lesser shoplifting (which would be deemed an “administrative action” and could be punishable without a trial). The latter seems far more likely than the former at this point. Chinese prosecutors enjoy a 99.2 percent conviction rate according to Amnesty International.

If Trump is involved though, it is unlikely to see an actual trial.

The UCLA Three could be home soon. Perhaps even before the next episode of “Ball in the Family.”

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