Most people can choose and buy their footwear with ease, but for this 13-year-old boy, this seemingly simple task has become especially difficult because he needed extremely big shoes – specifically 18-inch ones!
Zach Keith, a Douglasville, Georgia native, plays basketball and football for J.W. Stewart Middle School. He may be a teenager, but the boy already stands 6 feet and 2 inches tall and wears size 18 shoes. Unfortunately, his mother, Brittany, can’t afford to buy him extra-large sneakers, so she posted a plea for help on Instagram.
She wrote: “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.”
Little did she know that one of the world’s most famous athletes will respond to that call – and it’s none other than Shaquille O’Neal!
She tagged multiple news stations and shoe brands on the post, but it was CBS 46 who contacted Shaq.
As it turns out, the basketball player also had struggled back then with finding footwear that fit his size 23 feet. So Shaq arranged for Brittany and Zach’s visit to Friedman’s Shoes, which is his favorite big-and-tall shoe store in Atlanta.
Shaq said that he’s bought more than 3,000 pairs of big shoes from the store over the last 30 years ever since the owner, Bruce Teilhaber, gave him a free pair of dress shoes for prom.
“Bruce gave me a pair of shoes when I was 18-years-old for free, so I’ma take care of the kid today because somebody did it for me. I’m doing it for the kid,” Shaq said.
He said that he also related with the boy’s story because he had the same experience as a teen.
“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,” he said.
During their Wednesday store visit, Zach had no idea that he will be meeting Shaq that day.
“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 told CBS 46.
When Zach entered the store, he was shocked to see Shaq sitting on a shoe bench. Seemingly shy, the starstruck teen looked away for a few moments before approaching the NBA legend to shake his hand.
“I wasn’t expecting that. To meet Shaquille O’Neal, all-star player, one of my all-star favorites, surprised, shocked,” Zach said.
After their shoe shopping, Zach ended up with 10 pairs of big shoes of all kinds to take home courtesy of Shaq!
Now, Brittany wouldn’t have to worry about buying his son’s dress shoes. She said that Zach hasn’t had a new pair of shoes in about four or five years because they couldn’t find ones that actually fit him.
Brittany was overjoyed, and she expressed her gratitude to everyone who made this possible.
“I’m am so overwhelmed with all types of feelings right now. 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,” she said.
From one basketball player to another, Shaq made sure that this teen can go places while wearing shoes that fit him perfectly.
Check out the video below from CBS News featuring Zach’s special encounter with Shaq.