CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Cincinnati police officer Thomas Owens is back at home tonight. He doesn't know when he'll return to duty, but some of his youngest fans are hoping for a quick return to the bench. Owens is head basketball coach at Shroder High School in Cincinnati.
Late Friday afternoon, his team made baskets and ran drills. Members of the varsity basketball team at Shroder High School worked overtime and didn't mind it, after their number one inspiration, Coach "T.O.," was benched.
"This situation happened and I believe it's motivating our team," said Antwon Tolliver, a senior at Shroder High School. "It's not what we need, but it's what we need to get through the tournament. It's a team builder at the same time."
Likely, just what Officer Owens would want to hear. Last Friday night, the off-duty officer was shot in the abdomen at a convenience store in North College Hill.
Students and coaches said they slowly learned the news and began texting and calling one another.
"I was devastated," said Landon Williams, a senior at Shroder High School. "I didn't know if he was alright or anything. They didn't really say if he was going to be okay so I really didn't know what to think."
Shroder Assistant Varsity Basketball Coach Barry Williams also weighed in.
"I was devastated," said Williams. "The first thing I thought was was he okay?"
Fortunately, he would be. Officer Owens was released from University Hospital on Friday afternoon. His first words were about his team.
"I love my basketball team," Owens said. "I love all the kids. They're great kids to coach. I know they did everything they could in the tournament thus far to keep our dream alive. I appreciate it and I love them very much."
"Coach Owens is the heart and soul of this program," Asst. Coach Williams said. "Most of the seniors, he's been with them since eighth grade."
Coach Owens taught both Landon Williams and Antwon Tolliver since they were in junior high school.
"He taught me to work hard," Landon said. "Work hard at everything I do."
And Saturday, Owens plans to be at the game against Madeira High School to watch his team do just that.
"I'm going to the game tomorrow," Owens said. "I'm going to sit on the sidelines, but I won't be doing any coaching."
But his team said that's more than enough for them.
"It's exciting to see," Landon said. "He's going to be on the bench with us tomorrow and stuff so we're probably going to have more motivation to go out there and beat Madeira."
"This will be our third time playing them," Tolliver said. "We lost to them by one last year, but I think the third time will be a charm. I think we'll be alright."
Police say Keenan Childs, 37, shot Ofc. Owens. Childs is charged with Felonious Assault and is being held on $1.5 dollars bond.
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