At 7 feet, 1 inch tall, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal is no stranger to large shoes, wearing a size 23 himself. So when he heard about a teen who was in need of large shoes, he took it upon himself to help the teen out.
Eighth-grader Zack Keith, a young basketball player from Georgia, already wears a size 18 shoe at just 13 years old. However, his mother is unable to afford the massive shoes that he desperately needs. When Hall-of-Famer Shaquille O’Neal heard about his plight, he could relate.
“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,” O’Neal told CBS46 Atlanta affiliate WGCL-TV.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 10, 2019
Keith’s mother, Brittany Keith, had posted on social media, asking for help.
“I’m a single parent of a 13-year-old who wears a size 18 shoe,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “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.”
View this post on Instagram
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
She also tagged CBS in it. And when CBS saw it, they reached out to their longtime correspondent O’Neal who agreed to help.
O’Neal and the TV station waited at Friedman’s Shoes in Atlanta, a store known for carrying extra-large shoes. It also happens to be O’Neal’s favorite shoe store for the last three decades.
“If they don’t come from Bruce and Friedman’s don’t show them to me,” O’Neal told the news station about shoes.
When Keith set out with his mother that day for Friedman’s, he had no idea he would meet the superstar.
“I told him that we were going to go to a shoe store and that we were just going around looking at shoes and seeing if we could afford a pair,” Brittany Keith told the news station.
“I’m like ‘Oh my gosh, it’s really him,'” Keith told the news station.
O’Neal then bought Keith 10 pairs of shoes.
“Like whoa, he wants to buy me shoes out of all people,” Keith said.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 9, 2019
“This will help a lot. 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,” Keith’s mother Brittany said.
She added, “For me, it was just, it was very touching, very heartfelt and to know that there’s somebody out there that has his back.”
As for O’Neal, he just wanted to return the favor.
SHAQ GIVES BACK – When a single mom posted to Instagram that she couldn’t afford size 18 shoes for her 13-year-old son, NBA star Shaquille O’Neal took notice and surprised the teen with 10 pairs of shoes ???? https://t.co/u1fd0rJmSA
— WSVN 7 News (@wsvn) May 10, 2019
“Bruce gave me a pair of shoes when I was 18-years-old for free, so I’m going to take care of the kid today because somebody did it for me. I’m doing it for the kid,” he told the news station.
Back when O’Neal was 18, he needed a pair of shoes for the prom and the store owner Bruce Friedman gave him a pair for free. Since then, the Friedman’s store is O’Neal’s favorite. Over the last three decades, he’s bought some 3,000 plus pairs of shoes from there.
“I thought this was a good thing to do,” O’Neal told the news station. “Mom and kid plays basketball and Bruce did it for me and I just want to return the favor.”