The arrest of a “big baller” could result in a much bigger punishment than some might expect.
LiAngelo Ball was among the three American college basketball players accused of shoplifting in a luxury store in China and could be severely punished for it, including getting a lengthy prison sentence. The UCLA freshman, who is also a son of the polarizing LaVar Ball and brother to hoops stars Lonzo and LaMelo, was nabbed along with two teammates for allegedly stealing from the Louis Vuitton store in Hangzhou, ESPN reported Tuesday afternoon.
The team was in China to play a preseason game against Georgia Tech University on Friday.
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While immediate details were scarce, such as what was allegedly stolen, criminal penalties for theft in China are among the strictest in the world.
“Those robbing public or private property using force, coercion, or other methods are to be sentenced to three to 10 years in prison in addition to fine,” according to the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China.
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If a weapon was used or if anyone was hurt, LiAngelo and/or his teammates could also face the death penalty, according to Chapter V of “The Crime of Encroaching on Property” portion of the criminal code.
The laws in China are so strict that one woman was sentenced to serve a decade in prison for stealing a cellphone in China. Another woman who stole food from a grocery store was sentenced to being publicly shamed by being forced to hold up a sign reading, “I am a shameless thief,” China Daily reported.
In another sign of the country’s rigid criminal justice system, the above penalties were seen as being “too lenient” for shoplifting in 2001, according to the South China Morning Post.
Back home in Southern California, LiAngelo drives a Ferrari, which typically sells for as much as $400,000. His younger brother LaMelo drives a Lamborghini. Their older brother Lonzo just signed a lucrative multi-million dollars contract with the Lakers. Their father was running the Big Baller Brand, an athletic lifestyle brand that sells sneakers for $495 a pair, among other expensive items.
All of those facts likely left many wondering why exactly LiAngelo would need to steal anything at all. The least-heralded Ball brother, far from an NBA prospect, was largely seen being offered a scholarship by UCLA as part of a package deal for the guarantee that his brothers would play for the team.
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