A towering 13-year-old from Atlanta, Georgia, had no idea he was about to meet Shaq while shopping for shoes with his mom. The all-star player had a surprise gift for the young teen; it had all been planned.
Standing at 6-foot-2, Zach Keith required a colossal size-18 even though he’s still in eighth grade. The young man plays basketball and football. It was a struggle for his mother, Brittany Keith, to pay for the expensive shoes he wore.
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In a bid to make ends meet, Brittany had reached out for help via her Instagram account earlier in May.
“It’s hard finding shoes and cleats in his size let alone being able to afford them at times,” she had written. “He’s almost in a size 19 and I need help. If you can do anything to help I will be so appreciative.”
Keith tagged CBS 46 Atlanta in the post.
And not only did the TV station see her plea, they decided to introduce the mom and her son to a towering celebrity: NBA legend, the one and only Shaquille O’Neil. Together, they planned, they were going to make it happen for the young man.
CBS 46 arranged for the NBA hall-of-famer to meet the family at Friedman’s Shoes, his own go-to plus-sized dress shoe store—the very same store where Shaq, at the age of 18, had been given a pair of shoes for free by the store’s owner, Bruce Freidman, some 30 years prior.
Since that day, the NBA star, who stands at 7’-1” and sports a ginormous size-23, has never forgotten the gesture. Over the years, he has purchased some 3,000 pairs of dress shoes from the outlet. Nor has he forgotten the families in need like he and his mom once were. Many of those purchases were for young people shopping for shoes at Friedman’s. Whenever he’s there, he buys a young person a pair.
Brittany had kept the surprise from her son when the day of the meetup arrived last Wednesday.
“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,” she told CBS 46.
AWESOME: After learning the mother of a young basketball player with big feet couldn’t afford his extra-large sneakers, Shaquille O’ Neal stepped in to save the day. https://t.co/jsr53CDT26
— WATE 6 On Your Side (@6News) May 10, 2019
Zach was stunned when he stepped inside Friedman’s and saw Shaq sitting on a bench. He looked away shyly at first, but then went over to shake the enormous athlete’s hand. The 47-year-old sports star bought the young teen 10 pairs of dress shoes that day, making sure that both he and his mom were all set as far as footwear goes.
“That should last him for a long time,” Shaq said.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” Zach said. “To meet Shaquille O’Neal, all star player, one of my all-star favorites, surprised, shocked.”
Afterward, Brittany followed up with another post on Instagram thanking everyone involved.
“I’m am so overwhelmed with all types of feelings right now,” she wrote. “Thanks to everyone who shared my post. You all helped make this happen and kept pushing me to post… Words can’t express how I’m feeling.”