ATLANTA — When Shaquille O’Neal was 18 and trying to get to the prom, his father asked around to find a pair of size 18 penny loafers.
Bruce Teilhaber, the owner of Friedman’s Shoes in Atlanta, gave the future Hall of Famer a free pair of shoes. O’Neal, who grew to size 22, has been buying from him since.
It’s an act of kindness he never forgot, and this week, O’Neal helped an Atlanta teen with a similar situation.
Zach Keith is 13, plays basketball, and wears a size 18. With that specialty size, it’s tough for his mother, Brittany, to afford shoes for her growing son. So, when CNN affiliate WGCL reached out to O’Neal to ask for help, he didn’t hesitate.
O’Neal and WGCL’s Sharon Reed surprised Keith and his family at Friedman’s, with O’Neal buying him 10 pairs.
“Like, whoa,” Keith said to the station. “He wants to buy me shoes, out of all people?”
“This will help a lot,” Brittany Keith said. “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.
“And for me it was just, it was very touching, very heartfelt and to know that there’s somebody out there that has his back.”
O’Neal told the station that their situation reminded him of how it was for him and his parents.
“Bruce did it for me, and I just want to return the favor,” O’Neal said.