I am no fan of Shaquille O’Neal as a basketball player and could not even tell you his team. One of my sons-by-marriage is a great basketball fan and his birthday is today. I suppose it is only fitting that I write about Shaq on his birthday. I am making Shaq my VIP this week because of his recent actions as a man. This story starts with a police officer responding to a complaint and finding only “a handful of kids playing basketball in the street.” He began playing basketball with them with the action being caught on his dashcam. Later the “dashcam went viral.”
It was at this point that Shaq entered the picture. He saw the video and wanted to further the cause. He appeared at the police department Saturday and surprised the policemen. From the department Shaq and “a big group of officers” who went along as backup returned to the neighborhood. The officers got out of their cars followed by Shaq popping out of his SUV and surprising the kids.
There was “a spirited street ball match” with “the kids versus the cops – and Shaq.” Then Shaq took over and “challenged each kid to make free throws – and be rewarded with $100.” He gave “almost $1,000 to the lucky shots.” Then he “called the kids into a huddle, put his arms around them and gave them some life instructions: `Stay out of trouble, listen to your parents, respect your elders … and you can be anything you want to be.”
Shaq told the kids that he grew up in similar circumstances and they could change “this.” After warning them about taking money from strangers, he called the kids together once again to challenge them with this commitment: “I will … become … whatever I want to be. I will be a leader … and not a follower.”
I salute Shaq O’Neal for taking the time and making the sacrifice to make a difference in the lives of these young people. He set an example of doing good for all of us.