A Chicago teen kept breaking into the X-Sport Fitness Center and using its equipment. Management warned him they were going to turn him. But he kept finding ways to get into the place. Police were finally called in to deal with it.
Officer Mario Valenti learned that the 15-year-old previously had a membership to the facility, but his mother could no longer afford to pay for it. And all he wanted to do was play basketball there. But instead of charging the youngster with breaking and entering, the officer handed over $150 of his own money to buy the boy a membership that would last about 4 months.
When the owner of the fitness center contacted his corporate office about what was happening, officials there were so touched by the officer’s kindness, that they extended the youngster’s membership for two years.
Says Officer Valenti: “At the end of the day, it’s not about gratitude. Most of us took this job to help people, not to hurt them. The job can be negative. For the most part, the job is dealing with good people having a very bad day, so you’re not seeing the best side of people…. I’d rather have him playing ball than being on the street and possibly getting into trouble.”
And perhaps one day, they will all see the teen playing on a pro team, because he IS that good.
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