Renowned basketball player Shaquille O’Neal stands out in a crowd — and not just because he is 7’1″ and now reportedly 325 pounds. The NBA legend, O’Neal — or, as he’s more commonly referred to as, simply “Shaq” — has a varied set of off-court accomplishments to his credit: actor, rapper, reality television host, and, perhaps uniquely, law enforcement officer.
O’Neal has been through training with both the Los Angeles and Miami Beach police departments and has been made, rightfully, a reserve officer of each. While not his “day job,” so to speak, Shaq actually helped the Miami Police Department solve a hate crime — he witnessed the attack and promptly reported it to local authorities. And O’Neal also joined a Justice Department task force which, per that same article, “tracks down sexual predators who target children on the Internet.” In years past, he’s expressed a desire to make law enforcement his second career, but to date O’Neal hasn’t seen much in the way of live police work — with one unfortunate exception (which was not his fault). Just ask A.J. Nuckols.
On September 23, 2006, Nuckols and his family received a surprise visitor at the door of their rural Virginia home: a SWAT team. Per Nuckols (via the AP), “[m]en ran at me, dropped into shooting position, double-handed semiautomatic pistols pointed at me and made me put my hands against my truck.” He was — again, in his words, “held at gunpoint, taunted and led into the house” while the SWAT team executed a “paramilitary search-and-seizure team,” taking video tapes, DVDs, cameras, and computer equipment. Why were they there? A local internet service provider (ISP) informed the sheriff’s department that someone from a computer at Nuckols’ address had been downloading and trafficking child pornography. It turns out that the ISP erred on the location — the SWAT team was at the wrong house.
And with them on the raid? Reserve sheriff’s deputy Shaquille O’Neal.
Bonus fact: If Shaq ends up joining the Miami Police Department Bomb Squad, he’ll get to wear perhaps the most truthful, and hysterical, police patch ever made. It reads “Miami P.D. Bomb Squad” and “If You See Us Running, Catch Up!” Really.
From the Archives: Body Man: Like Shaq, Reggie Love played basketball (albeit only in college). His job after college? President Obama’s walking, talking iPad.
Related: “Becoming a Police Officer: An Insider’s Guide to a Career in Law Enforcement,” by Barry Baker, in case you’re interested in that career path.