• Frosty the Snowman provided a chilly break from Florida’s warmer winter weather - Visiting up North was an experience that a Floridian could enjoy, but coming home to warmer weather makes one appreciate Florida. ...
• Women prisoners count their blessings on a tearful Thanksgiving at Lowell Prison - Visits on Thanksgiving were all too short at Lowell Prison where children were asking "Why can't I stay with Mommy?" Columnist Jack Strickland visits at Lowell and writes a riveting story about the emotions of the day as families got together all too briefly. He came away with both a feeling of sadness and of joy. ...
• “Souls to the Polls” march re-enacts history to inspire students at FAMU to vote in the election - FAMU students recreated history on Sunday with a march to the polls to demonstrate the importance of voting and to inspire students to vote in the national election. ...
• Florida women’s prison is nightmare as prisoners endure humiliation, poor medical care, rip-offs - Florida's major prison for women is an endless nightmare for those who have to endure the permanent psychological scarring that results from little privacy, no meaningful rehabilitation, general neglect of medical care by the prisons, and the rip-off of high prices for phone calls and items supplied by private contractors. ...
• Question is whether Adelson family was involved in Markel murder, and motives of the suspects - Questions remain unanswered about release of evidence and possible motives for murder - were suspects trying to extort money from Adelsons? ...
• Small explosion causes chaos at Florida A&M University - An explosion at the FAMU campus Thursday was actually a dishwasher catching fire. However it did cause a scare among faculty, staff and students at the Presidential Dining Hall. ...
• In a surprise appearance, Shaq has a ball inspiring neighborhood kids to dream big - A surprise visit by the former star basketball player to Gainesville and the police department brought out good feelings all around as kids got to play with superstar. ...
• ‘Cash register justice’ for the poor means no justice for many in Florida courts - Prosecutors now seek to extract fees from indigent defendents to help pay office costs, causing possible miscarriage of justice, says national justice center. ...
• If Jeb Bush ever really went to prison in Florida, he wouldn’t get a happy reception - The disaster of corruption, privatized prisons, and loss of competent leadership in state prisons is Jeb Bush’s legacy in Florida. ...
• Court fails to convict police officer in NC shooting death of former FAMU football player - Family pleads for calm as jury fails to find officer guilty in shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell in Charlotte; no decision yet on retrial. ...
• Carson wins best dressed while Trump brings up the rear in the clash of haberdashery at GOP debate - Who was dressed to win the recent GOP debate? Who wore the most stunning tie, and the best cut suit? Looks like neurosurgeon Ben Carson knows how to dress. Donald Trump, who sells a line of clothing, ironically finishes last. ...
• FSU could receive NCAA sanctions similar to those of Penn State sex scandal - Recent events will add up to more problems for Florida State University when NCAA and Title IX investigators report their findings. ...
• Gators end Florida State’s baseball hopes in big wins in Gainesville; on to the Series - Getting back into the College World Series was a dream for both teams, but the Gators managed to teach Florida State a lesson or two. ...
• Miracle of heart transplant puts ‘inoperable’ Rachel, 10, back in the arms of her new family - The dramatic story of how 10-year-old Rachel McCary got her new heart and a new chance to live is told by Jack Strickland who watched closely at the hospital in Gainesville while a miracle was performed. ...
• Colorful veteran George Barnes’ last words were “Don’t give up the ship” - George Barnes found himself an outsider at the end of his life, but he made a difference to a lot of people. He gave and shared compassion, and up to the end, he fought a good fight and found a lot of friendship. ...
|Lowest Gas Prices in Tallahassee|
|Tallahassee - Gas Prices provided by GasBuddy.com|
» Oscars 2017: Everything you need to know
» What to expect at the 89th Academy Awards
» Oscar predictions: Who will win big?
» How much does it cost to win an Oscar?
» Jimmy Kimmel hopes Matt Damon doesn't get an Oscar
» Razzies announces winners
» Yes we can ... elect Obama president of France?
» Crowds gather as Obama goes on New York coffee run
» Kansas shooting: Widow of Indian man calls for action
» Opinion: How Trump's privilege makes him blind to bigotry
NPR National Headlines
» Trump Will Be First President In 36 Years To Skip White House Correspondents Dinner
» 'The Americans' Showrunners On Writing Cold War-Era Drama Amid New Russian Relations
» Doctor Takes Death Education To High School Classrooms
» Tattoo Artist Covers Up Racist Insignia For Free: 'Enough Hate In This World'
» After White Nationalist Moves Upstairs, Virginia Chocolatiers Get Unexpected Support
» Trump Administration House Bars Major Media Organizations From Latest Press Briefing
» Tom Perez Elected As New DNC Chair
» Lucille Horn, Who Was Nursed To Health In A Coney Island Sideshow, Dies At 96
» WATCH: After Health Scare, Fiona The Baby Hippo Goes For A Dip
» Perez Elected As Chairman Of Democratic National Committee
CNN World Headlines
In a surprise appearance, Shaq has a ball inspiring neighborhood kids to dream bigJanuary 27, 2016
By: Jack Strickland
Shaquille O’Neal stole the show in Gainesville, Florida last weekend. He rolled into town to support the Gainesville Police Department and to inspire and support kids in a disadvantaged neighborhood.
The heartwarming story began last week when an irate citizen called in a complaint to GPD about neighborhood kids nosily playing basketball in the street. Officer Bobby White responded to the call. He pulled up to the “crime scene” with his dash-cam recording the entire incident.
The offending kids scattered when they saw the cop car approaching. One lone kid remained behind to take the heat. Officer White advised the kid that he had been dispatched to deal with a complaint about a loud basketball game that had been in progress in the street. He asked for the ball and started shooting baskets, frequently passing off to the kid, who remained behind, for him to shoot, too.
Other kids returned and joined in the shooting. The dash-cam recorded Officer White and the kids enjoying a spirited shoot around. The kids were good. Playing basketball on that street court is about the only recreation available to them. They get lots of practice. Officer White advised them to try to hold the noise down. He acknowledged that the kids had whipped him. As he was leaving the told them he would be back with back up in a few days for a rematch.
The GPD posted the dash-cam video on social media with the statement, “This is how we handle it when we get complaints about kids being kids.” The video went viral on social media.
Shaquille O’Neal is a member of the Doral, Florida police department. The Doral police chief saw the video. He borought it to Shaq’s attention. Shaq wanted to help. And he wanted to meet Officer Bobby White. He drove to Gainesville and arranged to meet Officer White and his colleagues. White and other police officers were called in early for their shift. Shaq walked into the squad meeting on cue and saluted Officer White. He congratulated him on how he had handled the noise complaint.
He told White, “I saw the video and heard you tell the kids you would be back for another game and you were going to bring back up. I am here to be your back up. Let’s roll out there and play some basketball.”
Twenty or more police officers and support staff joined them in the ride to meet the kids. Officer White led the motorcade with Shaq driving his vehicle directly behind White’s car. Shaq remained out of sight in his truck as Officer White walked up to the kids and told them he was back to play some more basketball. He remind them he had promised to bring back up when he returned. Pointing to the police officers who were standing in the background, He said, “I brought some big guys.”
On cue, Shaq got out of his truck, removed his outer garment, and ambled toward the court. He was immediately recognized and cheered by the kids. One excited kid could be heard exclaiming, “God Damn!” Shaq high-fived and hugged the kids. He said, “Let’s play some basketball.”
They enjoyed a spirited game. It was Shaq and uniformed police officers against the neighborhood kids. The kids are good. They had the home court advantage. No one kept score but it seemed clear that the kids won by a comfortable margin.
At game’s end Shaq lined up the kids to shoot free throws. He promised to give every kid a hundred dollars if they could make one of two shots. Every kid scored and collected.
Shaq huddled up with the kids with his massive arms encircling them and holding them close. He gave them an inspirational pep talk. He told them he grew up in a neighborhood just like theirs. He said they could become anything they wanted to be and required them to repeat his words after him.
He urged them to be a leader, not a follower, to always honor their mother and father and respect their teachers and community leaders. And, he told them to never again to accept money from strangers. The kids seemed spell bound.
Shaq said his goodbyes, got in his truck, headed for the interstate and the drive back home. Those kids, the police officers, and Gainesville may never be the same.
A series of videos documenting the event have been posted on social media. They have gone viral. One has reportedly been seen by 15 million viewers and counting. Officer White has been dubbed “the basketball cop” and is a national hero.
The Gainesville Police Department posted a tongue-in-cheek video thanking the old grouch who called in the complaint about noisy kids playing in the street. They said that without that complaint none of the positive developments would have happened.
Shaquille O’Neal has been called “Big Diesel” because of his powerful big size. When he starred for LSU he came to Gainesville frequently and led the Tigers when they played the Florida Gators. He was always larger than life and was always a showstopper. He has never stood taller than when he stooped to hug, encourage, and inspire those disadvantaged kids in Gainesville last weekend.