On Dec. 22, CJ Thompson, a senior shooting guard on the Long Reach boys' basketball team, was excited to give his friend, Shanquis, an early Christmas present.
Thompson knew Shanquis, a special education student at Long Reach who asked not to reveal his last name, was a massive Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment fan. After considering giving Shanquis WWE action figures, Thompson landed on getting his friend a replica WWE NXT championship belt. The gift was a huge hit -- Shanquis immediately put the belt on, yelled victoriously and struck the pose of Randy Orton, his favorite wrestler.
Some parents had heard that Thompson had plans to give the belt to Shanquis and asked that he videotape it so they could see his reaction. Thompson obliged, and uploaded the video to his Twitter account thinking it may get a few views during the next couple hours:
Little did Thompson know the video was about to send both him and Shanquis on an exciting journey.
"I posted it and like three or four hours later, it was at like 100,000 views. I was like 'Ok, it'll cool off,'" Thompson said in an interview on the
Feb. 1 episode of High School Sportsline
. "Next thing you know, it's at 500,000, then it hit a million, and I was just like, 'Oh my goodness, what is going on?'"
The video quickly became an internet sensation, as viewers gravitated toward the kindness of Thompson and the sheer delight of Shanquis. The original video currently has 7.32 million views on Twitter, as well as 139,000 retweets and 423,000 likes.
There were also plenty of responses from people calling Thompson a hero.
"I don't really look at myself as a hero, I thought this should be a normal thing," Thompson said. "Some of the other things they were saying was 'I want my kids to shake your hands. I want my kids to know who you are.' When you get messages like that it's just like wow, I really made an impact."
It's been a whirlwind month and a half for Thompson and Shanquis, as the duo has received tons of fan mail and gifts from people they've never met.
Thompson and Shanquis even became known to the superstars of the NBA. After seeing the video, the Washington Wizards invited Thompson and Shanquis to take a tour of the Capital One Arena Jan. 13. That night, Thompson and Shanquis got to attend a game against the Brooklyn Nets, which the Wizards won, 119-113, in overtime.
After the game, Thompson and Shanquis got to meet players like John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Marcin Gortat.
"Being able to spend time outside of school with Shanquis watching an NBA game live was just an amazing feeling," Thompson said. "We both love basketball and got real into the game. It was a close game that came down to the wire, and we were chanting 'defense' along with everyone else in the crowd. Thankfully, the team won because all the players were in a good mood after the game when we met them."
The fun times didn't stop there for the two friends though, as Thompson and Shanquis were both invited by the WWE to attend its shows in Philadelphia from Jan. 27-28. Thompson and Shanquis had seats for both the NXT Takeover event Jan. 27 and the Royal Rumble pay-per-view the following night.
Before the Royal Rumble, the duo was invited backstage, where they were met by company executives Triple-H and Stephanie McMahon. The executives presented Thompson and Shanquis with WWE Hero plaques and thanked both of them for making such a positive impact in their community.
After Triple-H and McMahon left, the two friends met a plethora of professional wrestlers, many of which had seen the viral video and knew both by name. Among those the duo got to speak with were John Cena, AJ Styles and Sasha Banks, but the biggest moment for Shanquis was when Orton came by and gave them both deluxe WWE Championship belts.
"Being there with Shanquis and hearing him say this was a dream come true I almost teared up because it was just one of those moments," Thompson said. "I was just grateful to be a part of it. I was just grateful that this could happen for him, because it's all about him."
For Thompson, he hopes that more people are encouraged to do nice things for others after seeing what has happened to him and Shanquis.
"One small gesture can make somebody's day, or even make somebody's life," Thompson said. "I didn't expect anything to come out of me giving him an NXT Championship belt for a Christmas present. What it came to is just incredible. It's remarkable."
Photo Caption: CJ Thompson and Shanquis with John Cena
Photo Credit: Genise Barnes/Courtesy Photo