Citizen Staff Writer
NBA great Charles Barkley stepped up – not to the hoop, but to help the family of slain Tucson police Officer Erik Hite.
Hite died Monday afternoon after being shot in the head Sunday during a crosstown pursuit.
Barkley called the Johnjay and Rich morning radio show Wednesday on behalf of the Hite family to participate in the “Who Do You Know” contest.
The Johnjay and Rich show airs from 6 to 10 a.m. on 104.7 KISS FM and 93.7 KRQ FM in Tucson.
The most well-known celebrity to call will win a Volkswagen Rabbit for the people he’s calling for, the announcers said.
Barkley, 45, enjoyed a notable NBA career before retiring in 2000 to work as an analyst for Turner Network Television.
He said he heard about Hite’s death through friends in Arizona. Though Barkley, who played for the Phoenix Suns 1992-96, called from Philadelphia, he lives in Phoenix about seven months out of the year.
“People ask why I’m always in such a good mood,” Barkley said during the broadcast. “I say, ‘Hey man, I play basketball. We ain’t that important.’ ”
He said many people are just skating through life “unless you’re a doctor, fireman, a teacher or policeman or something like that.”
He praised police officers. “It’s just such a tough job,” he said, “a tough situation. We want to do something for the family.”
Barkley said he’d contact some of his celebrity friends and have them call the station on behalf of the Hite family as well.
The person who answered the phone in the station’s Phoenix business office could not say if Barkley has been the biggest celebrity to call so far because the callers are not rated until the contest is complete.
The contest ends Friday, with the winner being announced at the end of that day’s show.
Celebrities can call the show at 877-937-1047 between 6 and 10 a.m. Thursday and Friday to participate.