Shea Garland-Stewart, 24, is newest initiate to join the law enforcement ranks alongside his friends and basketball teammates after graduating to become a Las Vegas Metro Police corrections officer.
Garland-Stewart became the fourth Valley High School basketball player from a close group of friends to enter into the Las Vegas law enforcement family.
The four former basketball players and their coach, Brian Farnsworth, described their relationship using words like “lifelong friends,” “brothers” and “family.”
According to The Las Vegas Sun, Garland-Stewart received the badge from Henderson Police Corrections officer, friend and mentor Charles Jackson, who also played under Farnsworth and later became an assistant coach on the team when Garland-Stewart was playing.
Jackson also performed the ceremonial pinning for fellow friend Officer Nicholas Brannon, 24, a few weeks earlier at the Henderson Police academy graduation.
Jackson Valley High teammate, Officer Josh Rivers, 34, also works at the Henderson jail alongside Jackson.
After the graduation, Garland-Stewart said his “emotions were all over the place” and that he was ready to start on his new journey.
The friend group formed from similar backgrounds and experiences. Jackson and Rivers were friends early on, going from sports rivals in middle school to playing together at Valley under coach Tom Farnsworth and his son, Brian Farnsworth.
The Farnsworths, particularly Brian, were instrumental in teaching not just about basketball, but also leadership. Jackson noted that they helped push himself to greater limits in life.
Jackson grew up with a single mother and financial hardships, and welcomed the father figure in Farnsworth. Rivers also said he learned about dedication and loyalty while playing under Farnsworth.
“It didn’t matter where we were from, no matter how much money we had…he treated us with respect,” Rivers said. “He respected us, and he always looked out for everybody, not just one single person.”
Farnsworth said he’s excited to see his former players use values they learned on the court to do something positive.
“It’s like my own kids. I’m so proud of them. Them being successful and watching them be successful is the reason I got into this profession,” said Farnsworth.
From a young age, the group of friends were already interested in serving in law enforcement. Jackson said he had wanted to be an officer since he was a boy, while Rivers’ father was a juvenile probation officer in Clark County.
The two friends went on to play basketball in separate colleges, but they never lost touch.
After graduating, Rivers went to play professional basketball overseas, while Jackson earned a degree in criminal justice looking to join the police force.
Jackson took an assistant coaching job on the Valley High basketball staff after finding that no agencies were hiring. Rivers also returned home and reunited with Jackson. The pair then formed friendships with Garland-Stewart and Brannon who were following in their footsteps playing ball.
They were taught determination and mutual respect for each other and their opponents, as well as to not complain about fouls during games. They were also taught to never give up.
Brannon said of the coaches: “[the coaches] were role models to us, always putting us in the right path. They always were there when we needed help with anything.”
After graduating from college, they were inspired to by their mentors to also join law enforcement. Jackson had landed a job with the city of Las Vegas’ department of public safety shortly after their graduation from college, which motivated Garland-Stewart and Brannon.
“Seeing him in it,” Garland-Stewart said. “It really helped motivate us.”
Farnsworth said the four friends are practically inseparable, spending time with each other and their families for cookouts and pool parties, and now they are brothers in law enforcement too.