Kids can get into all kinds of trouble. They’re learning and exploring their limits, after all.
But when one neighbor called the police over a group of kids playing basketball in Florida too loudly, the Gainesville Police Department decided on a very community-centric approach.
Well, that approach didn’t just go viral and capture the hearts of thousands. It also resulted in a visit from a very famous basketball star.
Responding to the Call
Police Officer Bobby White was the officer who responded to a neighborhood noise complaint one day. The caller complained that a group of kids were playing basketball too “loudly” in the streets. When White arrived, he decided it wasn’t in anyone’s interest to break up the game or scold the children. Instead, he decided to join the game and spend some time with the kids.
In a dashcam video shared by the department, you can see the officer shooting hoops and encouraging the kids to participate in the game. When the game ends, the officer promises to return soon for another round.
“We’re going to let kids be kids. We are going to focus on the ones that commit crimes. #HoopsNotCrime,” the department wrote in an accompanying Facebook post, as per CNN.
The video quickly went viral, with many praising the department for the way it handled the situation. Shaquille O’Neal was one of them.
Playing Some Hoops
A few weeks later, White returned to visit the kids, but this time he brought several other police vehicles. They pulled up for their game as the kids watched.
“Told you I was going to bring some backup, right?” White said. “You guys ready? Look at these big guys I brought. You sure you can take them?”
The kids cheered, but nothing could have prepared them for the man who climbed out of an SUV. As Shaq himself emerged, the kids were stunned. “Oh my God, you’re huge!” one of them said of the 7-foot-1 NBA superstar.
In a follow-up video posted by the department, you can see Shaq playing with the kids and offering them tips. Later, he told every kid if they could make a shot, he’d give them $100. If someone didn’t make it on the first try, he gave them another shot.
Sage Life Advice
In addition to playing with the group of kids and helping them to make memories they’ll never forget, Shaq shared some life advice. He told the kids how he has earned millions by doing three important things: respecting his peers, listening to his parents, and going to school.
He said it was important to stay out of trouble but also to be true to themselves. And above all, respect their elders — especially their parents.
“This is a day those kids will never forget,” the department shared in the video. “The day when Shaq rolled up to their neighborhood to play ball. All because Gainesville Police Officer Bobby White decided to handle a complaint like thousands of police officers do daily around the country.”
Letting Kids Be Kids
This story hits home for so many reasons: The officer who realized these kids weren’t doing anything wrong, they were just being kids. An NBA superstar giving back. A police community coming together to give a group of children a special day. It’s also a fantastic reminder that kids can and should be kids.
Sure, sometimes they can be loud, energetic, or potentially disruptive to the peace on a quiet neighborhood street. But the kids in this story were doing something positive with their time: playing a game that promotes physical and mental health while also learning about sportsmanship, teamwork, winning, and losing.
The officer could have broken up the game that day, but then what would the kids have done? Gotten into trouble? Who knows?
It’s a reminder that sometimes it is important to let kids be kids and encourage them when they’re doing something positive rather than redirecting them. Sure, sometimes it will inconvenience you, but also consider the alternative. So let kids play on your street without complaint, or better yet, join them.
There are a million other worse things they could be doing instead.
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