The basketball legend was moved when he saw the popular clip of Gainesville Police Department office Bobby White responding to a noise complaint on Jan. 15 by joining in a group of young friends’ pick-up game.
Surprising not only the boys but Officer White himself, O’Neal visited Gainesville to share his appreciation for the viral moment.
Arriving at the neighborhood where the boys live, Officer White advised the group “I told you guys I was gonna bring some backup,” before revealing the 7-foot-1-inch former Los Angeles Laker.
“You’re huge,” one of the little boys exclaimed as he greeted O’Neal.
The NBA star, 43, then played a game with a few of the uniformed officers and kids, before giving each boy a change to win $100 if they made one of two shots.
O’Neal held to his promise and dished out the monetary awards – as well as some sage wisdom.
“I came out here because I saw the video,” he explained to the gathered group of kids. “I’m proud of you guys. Stay out of trouble, listen to your parents, respect your elders and you can be anything you wanna be.”
He added, “I’m from the same neighborhood you’re all from. I grew up just like this. Only you can change this and you change it through basketball and showing respect to your peers like you did.”
After leading the group in a pledge to “be a leader and not a follower,” O’Neal signed some basketballs and went on his way.
And that’s how they beat Shaq.