Zach Keith, a young basketball player from Georgia, is only 13 years old but he already wears a size 18 shoe. Unfortunately, Keith’s mom can’t afford his extra-large sneakers. But, luckily for the teen, former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal heard the teen’s story and wanted to help.
O’Neal, who wears a size 22, said he related to the teen’s story. “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 CBS Atlanta affiliate WGCL-TV.
So, O’Neal and the station devised a plan to surprise the teen at Friedman’s Shoes in Atlanta.
The shoe store has been carrying large shoes for years and has become a favorite spot for athletes with large feet like O’Neal. “If they don’t come from Bruce and Freidman’s don’t show them to me,” O’Neal told the station.
When Keith met his idol at the shoe store, they didn’t just chat, they went shopping. The basketball legend ended up buying Keith 10 pairs of size 18 shoes. He bought all different kinds, knowing it was often hard for the teen and his mom to find the right size.
“This will help a lot. I won’t so much have to worry about buying him dress shoes,” the teen’s mom, Brittany Keith said. “He hasn’t had a pair of dress shoes in about four or five years because it’s been hard trying to find the ones that actually fit.”
Zach Keith said he was shocked to be in the same room as Shaq. “I’m like, ‘Whoa, he wants to buy me shoes, out of all people?'” he told WGCL. The pair ended up practicing some basketball moves inside the store together.
For Zach’s mom, it was nice to know her son had someone to relate to. “For me it was just very touching, very heartfelt, to know there is someone out there that has his back,” she said.
O’Neal said he was inspired to give back by Friedman’s Shoes owner, Bruce Teilhaber, who has helped him out a lot over the years. “I thought this was a good thing to do,” O’Neal said. “Kid plays basketball, and Bruce did it for me, and I just want to return the favor.”