NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal is now making a name for himself in the world of law enforcement.
The Henry County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia, announced on Jan. 22 that it had hired O’Neal as the suburban Atlanta agency’s director of community relations. Office spokesman Eric Jackson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that O’Neal would partner with newly elected Sheriff Reginald Scandrett to span the divide between law enforcement and the community.
“As a part of Sheriff Scandrett’s strategic plan, bridging the gap between the community and law enforcement is paramount,” Jackson said. “Coupled with Dr. O’Neal’s philanthropy, Scandrett and Shaq have a specific plan to begin uniting the Henry County community.”
Scandrett revealed more details about the collaboration at a news conference on Jan. 23, Fox 5 Atlanta reported. “As we build this team, and if I can use the NBA as a reference point, you’ve got to always make sure you have the right big man,” said Sheriff Scandrett. “I believe and know that we have one of the best big men in the business.”
The sheriff reiterated his desire for O’Neal to assist in advancing the office’s relationships with the Henry County neighborhoods.
“This is a very specific, strategic plan that’s going to be fluid along the way and we’re going to make sure that we sort of attack everyone that needs the help along the way, the mentorship along the way. Someone helped us — very challenged youth along the way —and if we can do that to someone, we can change not only Henry County but change recidivism and change the state of Georgia and subsequently change these United States,” Scandrett said.
The announcement was made in front of “A Friend’s House,” which is “an emergency shelter for youth in crisis.” O’Neal said that because of a partnership with Pepsi, he bought new furniture for the facility and intends on refurbishing the entire building.
“When they walk in there, I want them to feel like I’m their father — luxury beds, luxury furniture, nice paint, artwork. There’s a gaming place around the corner. I’m about to go there and rack up on games. I want these kids to be able to feel good about themselves,” said O’Neal.
He said to not expect all his activities to be publicized, as his intention with these actions is not to get praise from the public.
“When I do stuff like this I never want credit, ’cause it’s all about making my mother smile when she watches this tonight. It’s about making my daughters proud. It’s about making my sons proud. It’s about making everybody proud,” O’Neal said.
The retired basketball player originally told The Washington Post in 2017 that he anticipated running for Henry County sheriff in 2020. However, when he appeared as a guest on “The Doctor Oz Show,” he informed Dr. Mehmet Oz that he had changed his mind, according to AJC.
“I thought about doing it in 2020, but I think I’ll wait until 2024,” O’Neal said.
O’Neal has maintained a high interest in working with police departments, and was sworn in as a sheriff’s deputy in another Atlanta suburb, Clayton County, in 2016. He has also has been selected as an honorary U.S. deputy marshal and a reserve police officer with agencies in California, Arizona and Florida, according to Clayton News-Daily.com.
The four-time NBA champion’s nexus to the Atlanta area can be attributed to the fact that since 2011 he has been a studio analyst on the “Inside the NBA” program, which is shot the Turner Sports studios in Georgia’s capital city. Last summer O’Neal bought a mansion in the Henry County municipality of McDonough, which is roughly 30 miles from Atlanta.