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Ex-wife of NBA star Lorenzen Wright charged in connection to his murder

The ex-wife of former NBA player Lorenzen Wright was arrested in California and charged with first-degree murder Friday night.

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Sherra Wright-Robinson was arrested in her Riverside, California, home Friday. Jail records show she was booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside at 9:28 p.m. PT. No charges are listed.

Wright-Robinson was indicted and arrested for conspiracy, criminal attempted first degree & first degree urder in the death of Wright, police said.

Deborah Marion, Wright's mother, said authorities told her Wright-Robinson would be charged with first-degree murder, the same charge that was filed against Billy Ray Turner, who was arrested on Dec. 5.

Wright starred at the University of Memphis and was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers as the seventh overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft. He played 13 seasons in the NBA with the Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings and Cleveland Cavaliers before retiring in 2009.

The former NBA star was last seen alive on July 18, 2010 when he left Wright-Robinson’s home. The next day, police received a phone call from Wright's cell phone, but it was interrupted by gunfire, according to Shelby County District Attorney's Office.

Wright's body was later discovered on July 28, 2010, in a field near Hacks Cross and Winchester. The then 34-year-old was shot multiple times. 

Investigators found the alleged murder weapon in a lake near Walnut, Mississippi, on Nov. 9, 2017.

LaVar Ball pulls son LiAngelo out of UCLA after suspension

LaVar Ball pulled his son, LiAngelo, out of UCLA weeks after the Bruins basketball player and two of his teammates were arrested in China for stealing a pair of sunglasses.

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LaVar Ball confirmed to ESPN on Monday that he had removed his son from the university. TMZ first reported the decision.

LiAngelo Ball was indefinitely suspended alongside teammates Cody Riley and Jalen Hill after they were accused last month of shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store next to their hotel in Hangzhou, China. If convicted, the trio would have faced 10-year sentences.

"I'm not sitting back and waiting," LaVar Ball told ESPN. "We get back over here and the consequences were even stiffer than China. So basically they're in jail here."

>> Related: UCLA basketball players thank president for help after arrest in China

The trio apologized to their teammates, friends, families and the government – including President Donald Trump – at a news conference after they were returned to the U.S. on Nov. 14.

According to ESPN, Riley, Hill and LiAngelo Ball were subject to review for possible violations to UCLA’s Student Conduct Code. The code includes a section on theft.

UCLA basketball coach Steve Alford announced last month that the trio would be suspended indefinitely. ESPN reported that the players have not been allowed to suit up, travel or practice with the UCLA basketball team.

>> Related: LiAngelo Ball, UCLA teammates arrested in China could get 10 years in prison if convicted

"These are good young men who exercised an inexcusable lack of judgment," Alford said at a news conference last month. “At some point, they may be permitted to join team workouts, practices and meetings, but that timeline has yet to be determined. They will have to earn their way back."

Trump slams 'ungrateful fool' LaVar Ball in tweets

President Donald Trump escalated his feud with NBA personality LaVar Ball in a pair of tweets Wednesday, calling Ball an “ungrateful fool” and taking full credit for getting Ball’s son and two of his UCLA basketball teammates back to the U.S. after the trio was accused of shoplifting in China.

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“It wasn’t the White House, it wasn’t the State Department, it wasn’t father LaVar’s so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long term prison sentence - IT WAS ME,” the president wrote in a tweet posted around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday. “Remember LaVar, shoplifting is NOT a little thing. It’s a really big deal, especially in China. Ungrateful fool!”

Trump and Ball have engaged in a verbal back-and-forth since the president took credit for freeing Ball’s son, LiAngelo, and two of his teammates, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, from a Chinese jail earlier this month. The trio was facing shoplifting charges and as many as 10 years in China’s prison system.

>> Related: WATCH: LaVar Ball fires back at Trump in heated CNN interview

LiAngelo Ball, Riley and Hill were released and allowed to return to the United States last week after Trump said he spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping on their behalf.

“The basketball players, by the way — I know a lot of people are asking — I will tell you, when I heard about it two days ago, I had a great conversation with President Xi,” Trump said, according to The Washington Post. “What they did was unfortunate. You know, you’re talking about very long prison sentences. (The Chinese) do not play games.”

>> Related: Trump again lashes out at UCLA basketball dad LaVar Ball: 'Very ungrateful!'

LiAngelo Ball, Riley and Hill thanked their fellow teammates, school officials and the U.S. government, including Trump, for the work they did to bring them back to the U.S. LaVar Ball, however, said in an interview Monday with CNN that he wouldn’t thank Trump.

"Did he help the boys get out? I don't know,” LaVar Ball said. “If I was going to thank somebody I'd probably thank President Xi (Jinping). ... It wasn't like he was in the US and said, 'OK, there's three kids in China. I need to go over and get them.' That wasn't the thought process.”

>> Related: Trump fires back after LaVar Ball minimizes role in getting UCLA players released

LaVar Ball told CNN that he felt if Trump helped to free his son, the president shouldn’t have felt like he needed recognition.

“If you helped you shouldn't have to say anything,” LaVar Ball said. “If I help somebody, I don't walk around saying, you know, ‘I helped you now, come on now, you give me some love, I helped you.’ Come on, for real?”

“Just think LaVar, you could have spent the next 5 to 10 years during Thanksgiving with your son in China, but no NBA contract to support you,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday.

The Palm Beach Post contributed to this report.

Trump fires back after LaVar Ball minimizes role in getting UCLA players released

LaVar Ball downplayed President Donald Trump’s role in having his son and two other UCLA basketball players released from custody after a shoplifting incident in China, ESPN reported.  In a tweet Sunday afternoon, Trump responded that he “should have left them in jail.”

>> Read more trending news/

“Who? What was (Trump) over there for? Don’t tell me nothing,” Ball told ESPN on Friday. “Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”

LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley had been detained in China for the past week on suspicion of shoplifting. The three players returned to Los Angeles on Tuesday and were indefinitely suspended by the team.

Trump, who returned from Asia late Tuesday, said he raised the question of releasing the players when he spoke with China’s president, Xi Jinping, during a trip to Beijing last week, ESPN reported.

LaVar Ball, Trump tweeted, “is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!”

The players were questioned about allegedly stealing from three stores in Hangzhou, including sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store next to the team’s hotel. They were released on bail on Nov. 8, ESPN reported.

"As long as my boy's back here, I'm fine," Ball told ESPN. "I'm happy with how things were handled. A lot of people like to say a lot of things that they thought happened over there. Like I told him, 'They try to make a big deal out of nothing sometimes.' I'm from L.A. I've seen a lot worse things happen than a guy taking some glasses. 

“Everybody gets stuck on the negativity of some things and they get stuck on them too long. That's not me. I handle what's going on and then we go from there.”

NCAA champion South Carolina women decline White House invitation

South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley said the only invitation that interests her is one to the 2018 NCAA Tournament.

>> Read more trending news

That was one of the reasons why Staley declined an invitation from the White House to attend a ceremony Friday to honor college sports’ championship teams, ESPN reported.

“We did hear from the White House about attending tomorrow's event, but we will not be able to attend,” Staley said in a statement. “As I've been saying since our practices for this season started, all of our focus is on the season ahead. The only invitation we are thinking about is to the 2018 NCAA Tournament.”

The White House did not provide a list of the teams attending, ESPN reported.

The Gamecocks won their first national championship in April. At the time, Staley said the team would go to the White House because “it's what it stands for. It's what national champions do.”

However, Staley told The Associated Press in September that the South Carolina squad had yet to receive an invitation.

“That in itself speaks volumes,” she said, adding that she was not sure the Gamecocks would accept an invitation after “some things transpired over the last few months,” ESPN reported.

President Donald Trump hosted the 2016 NCAA football champion Clemson Tigers at the White House in June. The University of North Carolina's 2017 national championship men's basketball team said earlier this year it could not agree on a date for a visit.

UCLA basketball players thank president for help after arrest in China

Three UCLA basketball players apologized on Wednesday and thanked authorities and President Donald Trump for the work done to get them home from China after they were accused of shoplifting.

>> Read more trending news

LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were questioned and arrested by police after they were accused of shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store next to their hotel in Hangzhou, China. If convicted, the trio would have faced 10-year sentences in China’s prison system.

Ball, Riley and Hill apologized to their team members, friends and family Wednesday at a news conference.

“I’d like to start off by saying sorry for stealing from the store from China. I didn’t exercise my best judgement, and I was wrong for that,” Ball said. “I also apologize to the people of China for causing them so much trouble. I’m a young man, however, that’s not an excuse for making a stupid decision.”

The trio also thanked their fellow teammates, school officials and the U.S. government for the work done to bring them back to the United States.

"To President Trump and the United States government, thank you for taking the time to intervene on our behalf," Riley said. "We really appreciate you helping us out."

Trump on Wednesday morning asked his followers on Twitter whether they thought the trio would thank him for his intervention.

“Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!” he wrote.

Ball, Riley and Hill were released and allowed to return to the United States on Tuesday after Trump said he spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping on their behalf.

“The basketball players, by the way — I know a lot of people are asking — I will tell you, when I heard about it two days ago, I had a great conversation with President Xi,” Trump said, according to The Washington Post. “What they did was unfortunate. You know, you’re talking about very long prison sentences. (The Chinese) do not play games.”

UCLA basketball coach Steve Alford said on Wednesday that Ball, Riley and Hill will be “suspended indefinitely.”

"These are good young men who exercised an inexcusable lack of judgment," Alford said. “At some point, they may be permitted to join team workouts, practices and meetings, but that timeline has yet to be determined. They will have to earn their way back."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this report.

Report: 3 UCLA basketball players to return to US after Chinese officials drop charges

The three UCLA basketball players previously detained by Chinese police on shoplifting allegations were being allowed to return to the United States on Tuesday, according to a report by The Washington Post.

>> Read more trending news

LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were questioned and arrested by police after being accused of shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store next to their hotel in Hangzhou, China. The three players were released on bond Wednesday and did not play in Friday’s game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai, China.

>> Related: LiAngelo Ball, UCLA teammates arrested in China could get 10 years in prison if convicted

The report of the players’ release comes hours after President Donald Trump said he spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping about the players’ case.

“They’re working on it right now... Hopefully everything is going to work out,” Trump told reporters on his tour of Asia, according to the Washington Post.

China Sports Insider reported Tuesday the charges of shoplifting were officially dropped for all three players.

LiAngelo Ball, UCLA teammates arrested in China could get 10 years in prison if convicted

Shoplifting is a relatively minor infraction in the United States, but not so in China. It could lead to a long prison sentence, according to multiple outlets — and that could be bad news for the three UCLA men’s basketball players reportedly accused of committing the crime Tuesday in Shanghai.

Bruins freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley could be sentenced to three to 10 years if convicted of “robbing public or private property using force, coercion or other methods,” according to Yahoo! Sports’ Dan Wetzel, citing the website for the Chinese mission to the United Nations.

The trio were detained Tuesday after allegedly shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store next to the hotel where UCLA is staying ahead of its season opener Friday against Georgia Tech. The most notable of the players is Ball, the younger brother of former UCLA star (and current Los Angeles Lakers rookie) Lonzo Ball and son of LaVar Ball.

>> Read more trending news 

LaVar Ball, who had planned a press conference but canceled it on the advice of his legal counsel, released the following statement:

"It is a very unfortunate situation that the Ball Family, and UCLA has to deal with at this particular time. We will comment shortly," he said, per ESPN's Arash Markazi.

William Nee, a Hong Kong-based researcher for Amnesty International, told Wetzel that those detained for crimes in China could “be detained for more than a month without American-style bail before local prosecutors even decide whether to press charges.” Nee added that the United States consulate could intervene to try and negotiate a quicker resolution to the case.

Nee added that the charges could also be greatly reduced and thus warrant a much more lenient sentence.

Thunder's charter plane dented during landing in Chicago

The plane Oklahoma City Thunder team members and staff were flying on apparently hit something in midair as it prepared for a landing at Chicago’s Midway Airport, ESPN reported.

>> Read more trending news

Players who flew on the team charter from Minneapolis to Chicago landed around 1 p.m. , ESPN reported.They saw the dent as they exited the aircraft.

Several players posted photographs on social media about the bizarre situation, but the team said everyone is safe, ESPN reported. The flight landed as planned and on schedule at Midway.

Carmelo Anthony posted an image of the dented plane with the caption, "What could we have possibly hit in the SKY at this time of night? Everyone is safe, though."

The plane "likely encountered a bird" during its descent, a Delta Air Lines spokesman said in a statement, adding that the aircraft landed safely.

The Thunder, who lost 119-116 to Minneapolis on Friday, are in Chicago to face the Bulls on Saturday.

Jim Larranaga: 'I am Coach-3' in FBI college basketball probe

University of Miami coach Jim Larranaga said his legal team believes he is “Coach-3,” as noted in the Department of Justice report about the FBI investigation into college basketball’s underbelly.

>> Read more trending news

“I am grateful we have come to that conclusion,” said Larranaga, “as I know I did nothing wrong, and it is comforting to know none of my assistants are connected in any way.” He added that the U.S. attorney’s office has not confirmed the identity of “Coach-3.”

In a news conference at the Watsco Center, Larranaga addressed the media for the first time since the Sept. 26 complaint was unveiled in New York. Uncharacteristically, he read from a prepared statement. He fielded questions afterward from reporters about the emotional impact, but referred all inquiries about the investigation to his statement, which said he appreciated that the media had a job to do, but that he would not offer comment.

Larranaga’s full statement: 

“I cannot state more emphatically that I absolutely have no knowledge of any wrongdoing by any member of our staff and I certainly have never engaged in the conduct that some have speculated about,” Larranaga said, holding a piece of paper with both hands.

“I have tried to live every single one of my 68 years on this earth with integrity, character, and humility. … To have those values that I cherish so dearly even questioned, is disheartening and disappointing.”

“Coach-3,” in the FBI report, was said to know about an Adidas executive and others conspiring to funnel some $150,000 to a 2018 recruit, later learned to be Orlando-based five-star wing Nassir Little. Little and his father signed statements, provided to The Post by Larranaga’s legal team, saying they accepted no money, never discussed payment with any of the men charged, and they and Miami did nothing wrong.

>> Related: Auburn, Oklahoma State, USC coaches among 10 charged with corruption

Asked about his relationship with former Adidas executive Jim Gatto, who was one of 10 men indicted by the FBI on conspiracy and fraud charges, Larranaga declined to comment, referring to the statement.

“It’s been a strain, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually,” Larranaga said. “It’s something that’s there. I have to deal with it. I have the support of my wife and a wonderful family. I have the support of the university, my staff and players.”

Both Ja’Quan Newton and Bruce Brown, the two players Miami made available to the media, said they were not aware of the details of the investigation. They said practice has been as usual, and they’ve noticed no change in their coach.

“Around us, ‘Coach L’ isn’t going to show he’s hurt,” Newton said. “He’s so happy to be around us.”

Larranaga said he briefed his players on Sept. 26, along with UM Athletics Director Blake James.

“They have nothing to do with this,” Larranaga said. “It hasn’t been talked about since.”

Asked how the investigation has affected recruiting, Larranaga said it has been a negative, but his staff is “very strong and resilient, and we’ll figure out a way to recruit successfully.”

UM does not have a verbal commitment for 2018. It had an official visit set up the weekend of Sept. 9 with five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley, but it was canceled when Hurricane Irma forced UM to evacuate the campus.

Asked if he has received messages of support from colleagues, Larranaga answered, “Yes.”

Asked if that has helped, Larranaga answered with the same flat, “Yes.”

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