It all started when police officer Bobby White responded to a noise complaint from a Gainesville, Florida, neighborhood on Jan. 15.
Once White approached the scene, all he encountered were a handful of kids playing basketball in the street — and instead of getting in their faces, he started shooting hoops with them.
And after his department caught wind of it, the video from White’s dashcam went viral.
Turns out one of the viewers was NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal — and he wanted to meet White and help further his cause.
But the first order of business was surprising White, which the retired star did easily after showing up — all 7-feet, 1-inches of him — at the department Saturday. “You’re much taller than you look on TV,” one officer was heard saying amid the starstruck rows of cops.
But the real surprise was waiting at the neighborhood where White played basketball with those kids.
This time a big group of officers went along for the trip, too, and while White waxed on to the kids that he returned with some “backup” —
— out popped Shaq’s massive figure from his SUV, strutting toward the shocked youngsters.
First came a spirited street ball match: The kids versus the cops — and Shaq. But it was just a preliminary.
Shaq challenged each kid to make free throws — and be rewarded with $100. When all was said and done, he doled out almost $1,000 to the lucky shots.
But the best part was when Shaq 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,” he said, “and you can be anything you want to be.”
“I’m from the same neighborhood y’all from. I grew up just like this,” he continued, pointing to the street where they just did battle. “Only you can change this.”
And while he was about to hand them all $100 bills, Shaq made sure they understood to never take money from strangers. “Yes, sir,” they replied.
To finish things off, Shaq got the group together one last time and instructed them to repeat after him: ”I will … become … whatever I want to be. I will be a leader … and not a follower.”
This story has been updated.