Antionette Brown is a worried mother and desperately worried about her son. Her son Wendell Brown is a former college athlete and Canadian Football league player and he has been incarcerated in a Chinese jail for more than a year. Mrs. Brown is pleading with President Donald Trump to help her son secure his release and to come home after the release of three UCLA basketball players – Cody Riley, LiAngelo Ball, and Jalen Hill – who were caught shoplifting sunglasses in Hangzhou.
Unlike Lavar Ball, father of LiAngelo, and his ungrateful and ridiculous tirade against President Trump, Mrs. Brown has repeatedly stated she would be willing to give him full credit and thank him over and over if only he would help bring her son home.
“I’ll thank him. If Trump helps us, if he helps Wendell, I won’t stop thanking him. He helped get three basketball players who were guilty get out. I pray he’ll help get my innocent son out. And if he does, I’ll thank him and thank him and thank him.”
Brown was a high school football star from Detroit that went on to play football for Ball State in Muncie, Indiana. After college Brown played professionally in the Canadian Football League, as well as in an American arena league. He then moved to Chongqing, China in 2015 coaching a team in the American Football League of China, as well as teaching English. He also opened and ran a cross-training business to supplement his income.
All was going well until September 24, 2016, when he chose to attend the birthday party at a Chinese bar. According to Brown’s testimony, many of the locals thought he was wealthy since he was American, black, and had a larger frame. A group of Chinese men insisted on having a drink with Brown but he declined the invitation. His choice to decline that invitation has led him down a dark and lonely path, as it angered the locals and a fight broke out with bottles being hurled.
Chinese police arrested Brown claiming he hit a man, causing him to lose an eye. Brown states he was merely defending himself from bottles being hurled in his direction. Brown was unable to contact his family for days. Eventually, a friend of Brown’s was able to contact his family back in Detroit and explain what happened. His family then hired an attorney in China to help Brown make his case. The family was then told in order to win their son’s release they would need $100,000 as restitution.
Mrs. Brown has been married for 17 years to her husband Travon King, working as a hairstylist while King is a barber. $100,000 might as well have been the moon to them as it was that insurmountable. As a result, for the past 14 months, Brown has been jailed at the Chongqing Jiangbei detention center. Should Brown be convicted of his crime, he could spend roughly three to ten years in prison.
Surveillance video from the bar made available during the trial proceedings corroborated Brown’s story – that he was simply defending himself and did not throw a bottle at anyone. Brown’s testimony was found to be credible when he testified on his own behalf in July. It was also revealed that the eye damage done to the man was actually done in a previous altercation. Yet no verdict has been announced or even an estimated time one should be expected.
Brown’s family is attempting to contact everyone they can possibly think of that could possibly help free him, including US diplomatic officials in China as well as with Michigan’s two senators, Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters and now with President Trump.
Once a month, an official from the US Consulate visits Brown in the Chinese jail to make sure he is not mistreated. Yet his family is naturally worried and his mother writes of sleepless nights.
Wendell Brown, back, has spent time in China teaching the game of football to kids. (Courtesy of the Brown family)
Mrs. Brown states –
“So many sleepless nights. It never makes sense. I stay up all night emailing people in China because their time is 12 hours ahead, so it’s daytime. You can never get an answer.”
“What was he over there on the Asian trip for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”