SALT LAKE CITY — A Louisiana man scored big points in the kindness department when he noticed a young boy shooting hoops into a trash can and decided to gift him the real thing.
Eight-year-old Jeremiah Williams is a basketball fanatic. He plays in his church league in Alexandra, Louisiana, and worships LeBron James, according to his grandmother, Patricia Williams.
"Jeremiah truly loves basketball more than Pop-Tarts," Williams told KSL.com. "He carries his ball everywhere he goes."
He's so dedicated to his sport, he'll do just about anything to perfect his game — even if that means using a trash can to practice sinking his 3-pointers.
Enter 30-year-old Devin Hinkston, who happened to be driving through Jeremiah's neighborhood one day as the boy was practicing in front of his house.
"I looked to my right and saw a boy in a basketball jersey shooting the ball, but he was shooting in the trash can," Hinkston to KSL.com. "It took my heart."
Hinkston immediately knew what he wanted to do. He headed to a local sports store and purchased a new basketball hoop for the boy he'd never met. Hinkston returned to the Williams house with the special gift just for Jeremiah.
"I knocked on the door and instantly I seen the look on his face. He started jumping up and down," Hinkston said. "He knew it was for him."
Jeremiah's grandmother was shocked and moved to tears.
"I didn't know he was shooting the ball in the trash can," she said. "Seeing a stranger give a child a gift like that. It's awesome."
Hinkston said the exchange was an emotional one for him as well.
"I always do it when I see a kid in need," he said.
But he wasn't prepared for his act of kindness to touch the hearts of thousands. Williams snapped a photo of Jeremiah and his new hero and included it in a Facebook post about the experience.
"Truly an Angel," she wrote. "What a blessing."
To date, the post has garnered more than 12,000 likes and more than 20,000 shares, and the outpouring of support continues to pour in.
"This what it's all about," wrote one user.
"He going to be a star. All because of you. Just watch," wrote another.
Hinkston said people have been reaching out to him to share the acts of kindness they've been inspired to do thanks to his example.
"It's making a trend and I'm glad," he said. "I see it making a change."
Jeremiah couldn't wait to share the news at his basketball game later that day.
"He was so happy," Williams said. "He told his friends and teammates at the game."
We got to worry about the future, and those kids are the future.
Jeremiah went on to score 12 points at the game, leading his team to a win.
The new-found friendship didn't stop at the doorstep — Hinkston said he returned to help assemble the hoop and speaks to Jeremiah and his grandmother often. He's also working on helping Jeremiah secure a college fund to help with his future.
Hinkston said he hopes to someday help even more kids by opening up a charity that provides after-school activities and learning support.
"We got to worry about the future, and those kids are the future," he said. "It's all I want. It's all I've ever wanted."
As for the attention his service has received, he said it's not why he does what he does.
"I do it from the heart," he said. "I never would have thought it would get this big, or bring this much joy and happiness."