GAINESVILLE, Fla. – It started with a pickup basketball game in Gainesville, and it has grown into a movement. Now, the Basketball Cop Foundation and the Gainesville Police Department are partnering with Ronald McDonald House of North Central Florida to help bring some joy to the temporary residents.
Gainesville Police Officer Bobby White, the founder of the Basketball Cop Foundation, will bring a few of his co-workers in uniform to throw a birthday party for the children and families at Ronald McDonald House. Each child celebrating a birthday that month will receive gifts during the party, which will include a birthday cake and more.
The Basketball Cop phenomenon began on January 15 when Office White was dispatched for a complaint about kids playing basketball too loudly in the street. He decided to join in and play with them.
He approached a male playing ball and asked about the complaint. The boy admitted a group had been playing in the street.
Instead of reprimanding them, Officer White picked up the ball and began playing with them.
More kids joined in when they saw Officer White.
After a short while, the officer told them he has no problem with them playing ball, just try not to be too loud.
"Have fun. Glad to see y'all doing this than out there causing problems," Officer White told the group. "You play here every day? Okay, I'm going to try to bring some back-up out here tomorrow and we'll get a game going."
A few days later, after the video was released, basketball great Shaquille O'Neal made a special trip to Gainesville to play with the kids.