- Growing up, basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal had difficulties finding and affording extra-large shoes.
- The star shared how he himself had been a recipient of generosity when a family-owned store gave him countless free pairs.
- So when O’Neal learned about a Georgia teen facing the same difficulties, he decided to pay it forward and surprised the teen with 10 expensive pairs of shoes.
Finding the right size of shoes can be difficult – especially if you’re looking for a size 23, like basketball star Shaquille O’Neal.
The former NBA star recounted how hard it was for him to find shoes in his size, even as a kid. Aside from that, his parents could not afford the hefty price that comes with extra-large shoes. So when he found out about a teenager from Georgia who was facing the same difficulties, he could not pass up the chance to help.
Thirteen-year-old Zach Keith, who is 6 feet and 2 inches tall, was in need of size 18 sneakers. In the hopes that someone might donate sneakers, his mom, Brittany, called out for help on Instagram and tagged various news stations.
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For those who said they would help me share this here it is: I’m a single parent of a 13 year old who wears a size 18 shoe. He plays basketball and football for J.W. Stewart Middle School and will be attending Douglas County High School in the fall. It’s hard finding shoes and cleats in his size let alone being able to afford them at times. He’s almost in a size 19 and I need help. If you can do anything to help I will be so appreciative. @nike @atlantafalcons @atlhawks @fox5atlanta @adidas @puma @reebok @newbalance @nba @nfl @jumpman23 @11alive @cbs46 @wsbtv @officialeastbay @champssports @footlocker @dickssportinggoods
It was CBS46 News anchor Sharon Reed who reached out to the basketball star. O’Neal decided to plan a thoughtful surprise for Zach.
O’Neal shared, “Mom couldn’t afford shoes. The kid had big feet. I just kind of reminisced about how that used to be me, my mom and my dad.”
The star shared how he himself had been a recipient of generosity when he was a teenager. When he couldn’t afford shoes, he was given free pairs by Friedman’s Shoes in Atlanta, a family-owned store known for their extra-large shoes.
O’Neal would never forget the generosity of the store owner, Bruce Teilhaber, which is why he has been a loyal customer of Friedman’s Shoes ever since. He decided that it was the perfect place to pay it forward.
When Zach and his mom entered the store, they were surprised to see the legendary Shaquille O’Neal.
The star, who was also one of Zach’s favorite basketball players, proceeded to treat the teen with 10 expensive pairs of shoes!
Zach recounted, “I’m like, ‘Whoa, he wants to buy me shoes, out of all people?’”
O’Neal also gave Zach his personal phone number and even threw in some extra cash.
Brittany, who is a single parent, was filled with gratitude. She said it had been years since her son owned a pair of dress shoes.
O’Neal’s compassion has made him a great role model for his fans, and he was more than happy to have paid it forward. He says, “I’m [gonna] take care of the kid today because somebody did it for me. I’m doing it for the kid…That should last him for a long time.”
You can learn more about O’Neal’s inspiring story in the video below.