More than 14 million people viewed a video of Gainesville Police Officer Bobby White joining in a pickup game and playing hoops with a group of local kids after responding to a noise complaint, including basketball great Shaquille O'Neal, NBC News reported.
The footage was so moving to the four-time champion that he made a surprise stop at the Gainesville Police Department Saturday, praising White and helping the officer fulfill a promise to "bring backup" the next time he stopped by to play ball.The dashcam video that shows Officer White playing ball with the kids went viral after the department posted the footage on its Facebook page last Thursday accompanied by a promise to "let kids be kids" along with the hashtag #HoopsNotCrime. When officer white returned Saturday with O'Neal in tow, he was ready to make good on his promise for a rematch.
"Told you I was gonna bring some backup, right? You guys ready?"Moments later, O'Neal emerged from a nearby SUV, giving everyone watching a true "Shaq attack" and bringing smiles to all the kids' faces. The Gainesville Police Department also posted footage of the game on its Facebook page and commented on the effect it had on the players.
"These kids will never forget the day Shaq rolled up to their house to play ball."Prior to the game Officer White, aka "The Basketball Cop," and his colleagues got a big surprise when O'Neal walked in to what everyone thought was a meeting about rounding up other officers to play in a game with the local youngsters, reported CBS Miami.
"O'Neal asked the police department to keep the event low-key to be able to truly surprise the kids."The NBA star's official blog also covered his participation in this weekend's pickup game with Gainesville kids, touting it as one of the rare feel-good tales about cops and teens at a time when they are all too few and far between. While there, Shaq took the opportunity to share inspiration and words of encouragement with the young men.
According to the Washington Post, O'Neal was looking pretty good in Saturday's game, save the time he barely grazed the front iron when he came in for a fadeaway jumper, while playing for dozens of star-struck locals and police officers.
"Saturday's pickup game… had to be louder than the shenanigans that sparked this whole thing in the first place. But we're guessing that cranky neighbor, presumably spectating the display from somewhere, didn't issue any complaints this time."It reportedly didn't take long for residents to realize that a celebrity was in the neighborhood and soon everyone was coming out to catch a glimpse of the star as he played and hopefully meet him afterwards. According to the Daytona News-Journal, Shaq arrived at about 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon and stayed for about 45 minutes.
What many fans might not realize is that Shaq is a member of the police force himself, having become a reserve officer in South Florida last January, according to ESPN. The NBA player was sworn in during an official ceremony by the Doral chief of police, but does not receive a salary under the terms of the deal. According to the report, Shaq previously served as a reserve officer in Miami Beach and Golden Beach while living in Florida, as well as in Tempe, Arizona, and the Port of Los Angeles. While in the line of duty, he mostly does community work and serves as a role model for local children. Shaq currently commutes to his work as a reserve officer in Doral from his homes in Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando.
[Photo by Tim Boyles/Stringer]