After telling him to leave three days in a row, Justin Pritchett, the operations manager at X-Sport Fitness gym, called the police to escort Vincent Gonzales out. But the police did something so unexpected.
Vincent is a fifteen-year-old boy who had been sneaking into the gym to play basketball because his mom could no longer afford their gym memership. Since he did not have a current membership to the gym, it was against the gym policy for him to play on their basketball courts. Having a juvenile using the gym facilities without a membership was a huge liability concern for the administration, so they were very strict about Vincent not sneaking in to play again. They warned him repeatedly, but Vincent kept sneaking in.
“I said, ‘If you sneak in again, I’ll have to call the cops “, Justin told ABC News”.
One day, while Vincent was caught trespassing again, the police were called. Officer Mario Valenti responded to the call. When he heard Vincent’s situation, instead of arresting him or filing a criminal complaint, Officer Valenti took this as an opportunity to display an act of kindness. He paid $150 for Vincent’s gym membership. Now Vincent is able to come to the gym as often as he likes.
“After 23 years in this job, you size up people pretty quickly. And I could tell he was a gentle type of kid,” Officer Valenti told ABC7Chicago.
Turns out, Vincent is a really good basketball player. He wants to stay consistent with practicing in hopes of trying out for the basketball team at his new school. Thanks to Officer Valenti, Vincent can continue putting in the work to achieve his goal!
“Most of us took this job to help people, not to hurt them,” he said to Chicago Tribune.
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