GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - A group of Florida kids who appeared in a viral video shooting hoops with a police officer got a huge surprise: a brand new basketball court and a visit from Harlem Globetrotter Anthony “Buckets” Blakes.
Life around the basketball just keeps getting better and better for the group of nine Gainesville kids, thanks to Gainesville Police Department’s “Basketball Cop,” Officer Bobby White.
In January, 16-year-old Tyree Thomas and his eight friends were playing basketball in front of a home, when someone called to complain to the police that the children were being too loud. In video posted on the police department's Facebook page, you see Officer White joining in on the fun, instead of disciplining the kid. The video went viral.
Officer White later pulled some strings and got these kids a brand new, permanent basketball court built in the neighborhood -- all the concrete and labor was donated by the owners of One Love Café. Even a commercial-size hoop donated by Lifetime Products. Now, they have a safe place to play, whenever they want. “It feels great! It feels wonderful!” said Thomas. “It just seems like God just wanted this to happen,” he added, with a big smile on his face.
Blakes stopped by to encourage the kids and to give them some tickets to upcoming shows. "I’m just hoping they walk away with the fact that, when they get older, they’ll have the opportunity to help somebody one day. Hopefully, they see that somebody looked out for them and gave them an opportunity to have some fun by building a basketball court. But, most importantly, just the message that you have to pay it forward.”
It’s a labor of love for Officer White, who started the whole thing by doing what he does every day. “It’s just touched the hearts of people all over the world, millions of people. So, I decided, I’m gonna keep rolling with it. So many good things have happened for this group of kids,” he explained.
That is why Officer White is starting the Basketball Cop Foundation. To get resources to area neighborhoods and apartment complexes that can use basketball equipment. “There’s so many people inspired by this,” he said. “If you get a couple million people to contribute just a little bit, before you know it, I might be able to renovate multiple existing basketball courts in the city.”
Learn more about the foundation by going to Facebook.com/BasketballCop.