Shaquille O'Neal joins police for basketball game

By Alex Butler   |   Jan. 24, 2016 at 4:17 PM

GAINESVILLE, Fla., Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Eyes bulged and mouths dropped to the pavement when mammoth NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal surprised children in Gainesville.

One Gainesville police officer made news earlier this week, when he responded to a noise complaint. On that call, officer Bobby White arrived to a neighborhood where children were playing basketball. Instead of offering citations to the small hoopsters, White joined their pickup game.

At the end of that game, White got back into his police cruiser and told the kids that he would try to bring backup next time.

When White went back to the station to brief his fellow officers about a rematch, Shaq showed up to throw in his services.

"Look at these big boys I brought," White said when he returned. "You sure you can take them? You're pretty sure you can take these guys, right? Well I brought some other backup for you guys."

Shaq then exits his SUV and walks into the nearest driveway, elating the children.

"I'm proud of you guys," Shaq says in the video. "Stay out of trouble. Listen to your parents. Respect your elders. You can be anything you want to be. I'm from the same neighborhood you all from. I grew up just like this. So only you can change this."

"You know how much money I made as a youngster," Shaq asks. "$700 million. You know how I made that? Respecting my peers, listening to my mommy and daddy and focus on my school. That's all you got to do. Alright?"

Shaq gave each player who made a free-throw $100 and then hands out autographs, takes pictures and shakes hands with everyone.

Fellow NBA legend Tracy McGrady joined White on TMZ Sports, where he said: "Officer White, first of all, we gotta work on that shot. Being a Floridia, I appreciate you and how you handled that situation because that actually was me when I was growing up in Auburndale, Florida in Polk County...and playing on the streets. So I couldn't imagine being in my own neighborhood and having someone call the cops because we're being kids and out here playing basketball. That blows my mind that someone would actually call the cops on us for just being kids."

"We're not doing anything. We aren't disturbing the peace. We're playing basketball. So I appreciate the way you handled that."

Shaq became a reserve police officer last year in South Florida. He has also been a reserve officer in Miami Beach, Golden Beach, Tempe, and Los Angeles.

Shaq, 43, now serves as an analyst for NBA on TNT. During his decorated 19-year-career, O'Neal won four NBA titles, three NBA Finals MVP awards, and was elected to 15 All-Star games.

O'Neal, Yao Ming, and Allen Iverson are among those nominated for the Hall of Fame's class of 2016.

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