Shaquille O'Neal said he could relate to the teen, who has to buy extra-large shoes

By Helen Murphy
May 10, 2019 02:25 PM

Shaquille O’Neal bought shoes for a Georgia teen after hearing that his mother couldn’t afford her son’s extra-large footwear.

Zach Keith, 13, wears a size 18 shoe, making it hard to find affordable shoes that fit. When his mom asked for help on social media, O’Neal (who is over seven feet tall and wears a size 22 shoe) decided to lend a hand because he could relate to Keith’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, 47, told WGCL-TV.

O’Neal surprised the boy at Friedman’s Shoes in Atlanta — one of O’Neal’s longtime favorite stores for large shoes. Friedman’s owner, Bruce Teilhaber, has helped out O’Neal in the past, including getting him shoes for his prom.

“If they don’t come from Bruce and Freidman’s don’t show them to me,” O’Neal, who has previously talked about having a hard time shopping for clothing to fit his tall frame, told the outlet.

At the store, O’Neal ended up buying Keith 10 pairs of size 18 shoes. In addition to the footwear, the former basketball star also gave the teen some spending money and his personal cell phone number to call if he ever needed help.

“This will help a lot. I won’t so much have to worry about buying him dress shoes,” Keith’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.”

“For me it was just very touching, very heartfelt, to know there is someone out there that has his back,” she added.

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Keith told WGCL that he couldn’t believe he was spending time with O’Neal.

“I’m like, ‘Whoa, he wants to buy me shoes, out of all people?’ ” he said.

According to the outlet, the pair did more than shop: they also practiced their basketball moves together inside of the store.

“I thought this was a good thing to do,” O’Neal shared. “Kid plays basketball, and Bruce did it for me, and I just want to return the favor.”