Former Ball State football player Wendell Brown has been sentenced in China to four years in prison on assault charges stemming from a 2016 bar fight in Chongqing.
Brown, 30, is a former linebacker for the Muncie, Indiana college, who later played for the Canadian Football League's Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Austria's Swarco Raiders. He was in China helping coach the Chongqing Dockers at the time of the altercation that landed him in jail.
Michigan Public Radio reports the Detroit native ">
The American Football International Review adds that "according to witnesses, [Brown] was provoked by a group of locals who were upset that [he] would not party with them," adding that after the bottle was thrown, "Brown ... retaliated out of self-defense."
Brown was tried in July 2017, but it has taken a year for the verdict to be announced.
In November, three UCLA basketball players detained in China on suspicion of shoplifting were freed after President Trump intervened on their behalf, but Brown's case was not resolved.
As Brown's plight has received more attention, however, the White House has reportedly gotten involved. Matt Liston, a fellow Ball State graduate told ESPN's Outside the Lines on Tuesday that "both the Chinese government and the United States government have been working together on the case."
Liston says Brown's family and friends went to Washington, D.C., in March hoping to raise the profile of his case before lawmakers.
Brown's mother, Antoinette Brown, has also been working with the Dui Hua Foundation, a San Francisco-based non-profit that advocates for clemency and better treatment for foreigners detained in China, according to The Muncie Star Press.
Antoinette Brown said she was nervous ahead of the announcement of the verdict, which came down Thursday morning China time.
"I had a rough last night, I couldn't sleep," she told the Star Press on Wednesday afternoon. "Just thinking about (Wednesday) night. I think everything is going to be all right and God is going to return him home."