Deputies play basketball with neighborhood kids in Willow Springs
HOUSTON – Street basketball is the game almost all the neighborhood children play in Willow Springs.
When two children waited for their turn only to find that there was no one to play, two unexpected guests jumped in.
Jace Louis, 11, works on his basketball skills relentlessly.
"I come here almost every day," Jace said.
"Here" is a small dead-end at a small street in his neighborhood -- the perfect spot for a makeshift basketball court. Using the streetlights to light the "court," one of his neighbors brings their hoop and the game is on.
"Everyone plays basketball," said Jace's friend, CJ Skillern, 11.
But Friday evening, while Jace and CJ called "next," when it was their turn to play, there was nobody to play against.
Until they saw two Harris County Constable Precinct 1 deputies pull up.
"I was kind of scared because I thought something was going on," Jace said.
But instead, this happened.
"We stopped and were going to watch them for a little bit and said well they might get nervous with us just watching them so I told (Duran), 'Just park, and let's go up and talk to them,' " said Cpl. Jose Roy Lopez who was patrolling that night with Deputy Aaron Duran, whom Lopez was training.
"The first thing we said was, 'Hey we got next!'" Lopez said.
So it was a 2-on-2 game -- deputies vs. Jace and CJ.
"With all that's going on with law enforcement these days, little chances that we have to build that bridge. We're going to take that," Duran said.
Deputies had a slow start.
"They were pretty good and fast. We're getting old, and I don't move as fast," Lopez said.
"At first, they didn't know how to play and then it started coming back to them and then then they eventually came around and...umm....beat us!" Jace said.
His father, James Louis Jr. was in awe and recorded it all.
"I just knew I had to record that and capture the moment because it's a positive light with the police and my kids need to see that," said Louis. "They did more than just protect and serve. I was very impressed with that. The service was when you need an extra set of pickup guys in the game of basketball. They kept the game going."
"You could see the joy and the glare in their eyes from the joy," Duran said.
Lopez said it helps build community, a type of policing that he said works.
"Instead of a monologue we have a dialogue with them -- them telling us what they need -- what they want from us -- how we can help them," Lopez said.
The deputies won 4 to 1, but they said it was about more than basketball.
"We like to show the heart behind the badge. So when we come out there especially with youngsters that we're no different than anybody else," Lopez said. "We hurt like they hurt. We cry like they cry."
"That moment right there could have changed (the children's) whole outlook on police," said Louis.
These deputies broke barriers one hoop at a time.
"They could have been out here doing something else but they stopped to play with us," CJ said.
"It impacted me to where I kind of was thinking of being a cop one day," Jace said.
Harris County Constable Pct 1 is having a "Building Bridges Basketball Tournament" on Aug. 11 for deputies and children. More details will be released on that later.
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