The gratitude was expressed after Trump tweeted earlier on Wednesday, 'Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? Alford said that during the suspension, which is indefinite because the school is now going through its legal process with the three students, they will not participate in basketball workouts or practices, will not travel with the team and will not dress for home games.
They were accused of shoplifting designer sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store in the city of Hangzhou.
Trump told reporters Tuesday that Xi had been helpful in working to resolve the case.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the athlete's Delta flight left Shanghai at 9 p.m. local time and is expected to arrive in Los Angeles around 5 p.m.
An anonymous USA official told The Washington Post that after Trump brought the situation up, Xi said he would ensure fair treatment and expeditious legal processing for the players. He said the trio, who had been held since last week, could have faced long prison sentences. Trump, while on a tour of Asia, urged his Chinese counterpart to let them go, and may have been looking for some credit Wednesday.
The effort was successful as the three players returned home late Tuesday afternoon, where they may be disciplined by the school as a result of the global scandal. "They [the Chinese authorities] do not play games". It also helps that US Chief of Staff John F. Kelly remains in personal contact with Chinese authorities and the families of the players. Now it's up to UCLA, possibly with some input from the Pac-12 Conference, to determine how the three freshmen should atone for what is a very embarrassing incident for the school.More news: IOS 11.1.1 update now available, includes 'i' autocorrect fix
The 3 UCLA players are likely to be punished by UCLA in the near future.
"I want to be clear that we take seriously any violations of the law", UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said.
The news of Trump's involvement was greeted with a range of surprise, outrage and opinions about the Ball family by people weighing in on social media.
LaVar Ball (in red), father of LiAngelo Ball and the owner of the Big Baller brand, and his youngest son LaMelo Ball (left) pose for a photo with a fan during a promotional event in Shanghai on November 10, 2017.
UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero confirmed Ball, Riley and Hill stole merchandise from three different stores, per Bonagura.