UCLA was in China for a game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai, which the Bruins won 63-30 despite not the three arrested players not participating.
News of the arrests was widespread not only in the United States but also in China, breaking just a day before Trump arrived in the country. They have been accused of shoplifting sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store near their hotel. The athletes were unable to play in the game, and they remain in China awaiting their fate while the rest of their team returned to the USA days ago.
And it did "work out" after Trump intervened on the players' behalf, speaking directly to Chinese President XI Jinping.
Trump learned about the details of the cases from aides, including Kelly, said the official familiar with the internal discussions.
The report came after President Donald Trump said he had a long conversation on the matter with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. "Finally, we want to thank the President, the White House and the U.S. State Department for their efforts towards resolution".
Trump's request was first reported by the Washington Post. The teams had travelled to Hangzhou earlier in the week to visit the headquarters of the game's sponsor, Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
The game was the culmination of a weeklong cultural and sports exchange involving the student athletes.
Ball's father, LaVar, said in a statement on social media that the process could take months. He spent some time promoting the family's Big Baller Brand of athletic shoes with his youngest son, LaMelo, while his middle son was detained.
The world is watching the events unfold in China with interest, and speculation over what may happen to them includes everything from a slap on the wrist to 10 years in prison.