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- Updated: January 26, 2016
Shaq surprised a Gainesville Police officer Bobby White who played basketball with kids in a viral video.
When Officer Bobby White responded to a call around 5 p.m. on Jan. 15, he had no problem with a couple of kids playing hoops in the street. Instead, with his dash cam recording the entire incident, White joined in and a small game soon grew to involve several other teens from the neighborhood.
The subsequent video went viral and caught the attention of Shaquille O’Neal, who long has been fascinated with law enforcement. Shaq was so impressed with White’s handling of the matter, the NBA legend traveled to Gainesville Saturday to hoop it up with White and the neighborhood kids.
The 7-foot-1 O’Neal tried to keep his visit on the down low to spare the children from publicity, but word soon leaked out and became a national story.
“I became a cop to help people, and these kids will never forget the day Shaq rolled up to their neighborhood and played basketball with them,” Gainesville Police Department spokesman Ben Tobias told a local TV station. “Without my choice to keep it a secret, I’m not sure this day would have transpired as it did.”
After arriving in Gainesville, O’Neal first met White before heading to the neighborhood to play.
O’Neal, a part-time Orlando resident, has held a long-held affinity for the work of the police force. He served as a reserve officer with the Los Angeles Port Police when he played with the Lakers and in 2005 was sworn in as a Miami Beach reserve officer.
White’s police work had been out of the public spotlight until last week. “A private, humble guy,” in Tobias’ words, White declined to be interviewed.
White’s words and actions on Jan. 15 spoke loudly to Shaq.
After playing a little bit of pick-up, White soon returned to work. Before he left, White told the kids to try to keep the noise down and praised them for finding a good use of their time.
“I’d rather see you all doing this than out there causing trouble,” White said. “You guys play out here every day? I’m going to try to bring some back up out here tomorrow and we’ll get a little game going.”
White had little idea he one day would return with one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
— Gainesville Police (@GainesvillePD) January 23, 2016
Sportact Editors and Wire Services