Shaq, Atlanta athletes give back to area youth

It was a day of giving back to families in Henry County. NBA Legend Shaquille O’Neal and the Henry County Sheriff's Office had two big events all aimed at helping families and strengthening relationships with youth.

There's an old saying that goes "idle hands are the devil's workshop". That's what the Henry County sheriff says he's trying to prevent with two major events, but one common goal: giving back. 

"Continue to teach children to be leaders and not followers," O’Neal said.

The day started out with ten families getting a surprise shopping spree at Academy Sports and Outdoors. 

In partnership with the company, Shaquille O’Neal and the Henry County Sheriff's Office gave the families $350 to spend.

"We want to listen to them better. We want to understand them better and validate them more by doing that we can bring them in and change the direction they've been going in," said Sheriff Reginald Scandrett.

There was some fun too, as Shaq, who is the community outreach coordinator for the sheriff's office tried to see if anyone could make a free throw in the store and win $100 on the spot.

"He don't want the money, sheriff. He don't want it," O’Neal said during the contest.

"I was not expecting to meet an entire basketball player here," said Londyn Gaulden.

"I was amazed, excited, and thankful to God because I was just surprised," said Ayden Bruno.

However, for the next generation, seeing Shaq and getting a chance to connect with first responders is what made them smile. 

"When I come in here, and I see Shaq…I’m like wow this must be a dream," said Bruno.

Later in the day, three greats: Shaq, former Falcon Roddy White, and former Braves outfielder Otis Nixon got all together for a sports training camp for middle school students. 

"Kids have always been my inspiration and giving back to the community, so it's always a positive thing," said White.

"We don't want there to be an opportunity that they only come to contact when there's a problem. It’s important we are able to build there's a relationship prior to," said Col. Tina Daniel.

Relationships like with Landin Lance. 

"I don't have to be inside all day and I get to work out and do something I like," said camper Landin Lance.

"The more sports I try I feel I get better at the other ones," said Jordan Cross

"No trust, no relationship, we have to develop trust with children to have a relationship with the community from a young age so when they are older they have the relationship," said Sheriff Scandrett.

The free camp is a three-day event and happening at Dutchtown High School.