Shaquille O’Neal knows better than anyone how frustrating shoe shopping can feel.
The NBA legend and Hall of Famer heard 13-year-old Georgia native Zach Keith was having a hard time finding and paying for shoes, since the 6-2 middle schooler already wears a size 18, so O’Neal surprised his family with a trip to Friedman’s Shoes, which is owned by Bruce Teilhaber in Atlanta.
“If they don’t come from Bruce and Friedman’s, don’t show them to me,” O’Neal said, via CNN. “Mom couldn’t afford shoes. The kid had big feet and I just kind of reminisce back how that used to be me, my mom and my dad.”
O’Neal, who wears a size 22, was happy to pay it forward and generously bought Keith 10 new pairs of kicks.
“I’m like ‘oh my gosh’ like, it’s really him,” Keith said. “‘Like woah,’ he wants to buy me shoes out of all people?”
This 13-year-old wears a size 18 shoe so they’re hard to find and afford.
— CNN (@CNN) May 10, 2019
The gesture came after Keith’s mother, Brittany, detailed their struggles in a post on Instagram earlier this month. O’Neal was then contacted by CNN affiliate WGCL in Atlanta.
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
“This will help a lot,” Brittany Keith said. “I won’t so much have to worry about buying him dress shoes. He hasn’t had a pair of dress shoes in about four or five years because its been hard trying to find the ones that actually fit.
“And for me it was just, it was very touching, very heartfelt and to know that there’s somebody out there that has his back.”