After his breathtaking performance during the national anthem at a men’s basketball game, West Virginia University police officer Carlton Smith became an internet phenomenon.

On January 12, while on duty at the WVU Coliseum, university administrators urgently approached Officer Smith. They needed someone to perform the national anthem in just five minutes after the scheduled singer was delayed due to snow.

Officer Smith, a four-year veteran of the West Virginia University Police Department, is known among his colleagues for his singing talent. At 28 years old, he once advanced to the Hollywood round of “American Idol” 13 years earlier. Despite his experience, the sudden request to perform for the 14,000 spectators at the Coliseum took Smith by surprise.

Smith recounted the moment: “They asked if I was Carlton and said they needed a big favor,” he explained. He asked for a glass of water, which a cheerleader promptly brought him. Then, they led him to the court and instructed him to start singing as soon as his name was called.

Smith’s performance has since garnered over 2 million views on YouTube. Off duty, Smith continues his lifelong passion for singing. He performs with a band at open mic nights and sings in church, maintaining his deep connection to music. “It’s my passion,” he admitted.

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