MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The “Big Man” helped deliver new winter coats to Memphis school children this week. No, we’re not talking about Santa, although he was there, too. We’re talking about Z-Bo, a 6’9”, 260 pound monster on the court, but a total softie with the kids.
When dozens of Memphis Police officers showed up at Cummings Elementary on Wednesday morning, a child asked, “Who’s in trouble?”
By donating hundreds of coats to at-risk kids, MPD Director Toney Armstrong hopes the kids see a kinder, gentler, more caring police force.
“One of the things I’m very passionate about,” he told the Cummings’ students during an assembly in the cafeteria, “is making sure you have all the resources and all the things you need so you can come to school and focus on getting an education.”
The MPD’s Community Outreach Program, or “COP”, teamed up with City Gear and the Memphis Grizzlies for the first annual “Coats for Kids” event. Officer Joseph Majors says they came up with the idea after making a heartbreaking observation.
“While my partner and I are in the patrol car arguing about how hot or cold it is,” Majors told ABC 24 News, “we noticed all these kids walking to school with no coats on.”
Majors and the other officers in “COP” pooled their money to buy coats for the children.
As each child stepped to the stage when their name was called, receiving a brand new winter coat put a smile on every face. So did scoring a candy cane from Santa.
But the highlight of the day was the chance to meet Z-Bo. Grizzlies superstar Zach Randolph, by matching the money raised by the police, is giving back to the community, again. Z-Bo helped hand out free Thanksgiving dinners to hundreds of needy families last month, and his generosity knows no limit.
“I still have to do my kids,” he told abc24 News. “I get about 100 kids and take them shopping at Target. Tony Allen and I are working on some other things, so we’ve got a lot of stuff we’re trying to do.”
Z-Bo is a force on, and off, the court. The Grizzlies “Big Man” proving yet again, he has a big heart and big love for the people of Memphis.
“Oh yeah,” he said smiling. “It’s what it’s all about, man.”
When ABC 24 talked to Z-Bo, he was still riding high from the previous night’s big win in overtime against the Phoenix Suns. He scored 38 points and had 22 rebounds, calling it his best game in the last two years.
The buzz in the sports world right now: Z-Bo should make the All-Star roster. He’s certainly an All-Star in the hearts and minds of Memphians.