An eighth-grader from Georgia with size-18 feet just got his socks knocked off by Shaquille O’Neal.
The retired NBA star surprised the 13-year-old with 10 pairs of new shoes in the extra-large, specialty size during a meeting at Friedman’s Shoes in Atlanta on Wednesday.
“He’s so amazed. I don’t think he really believes it’s real, even today,” mom Brittany Keith said of her son Zach Keith in a Thursday phone interview with the Daily News.
“He’s wearing one of the pairs today, blue sneakers. He was so excited to put them on. He woke up early to make sure his outfit matched and even took the time to iron his clothes,” she said.
The grateful mom said the surreal experience started when she posted an Instagram plea last week describing how hard it was to find and afford the specialty shoes and cleats needed to outfit her still-growing son.
Local WGCL-TV reporter Sharon Reed saw the post and contacted O’Neal, who agreed to help.
O’Neal told the station his dad reached out to Friedman’s Shoes back when O’Neal was in high school and needed a pair of size-18 penny loafers for the prom.
He said shop owner Bruce Teilhaber quoted a price that was out of the family’s price range back then, so his dad asked about the store’s layaway program.
At that point, Teilhaber said he wanted to give the shoes to O’Neal with the simple request that if the already famous student athlete turned pro, he’d come back and shop at the store again.
“So Bruce gave me a pair of shoes when I was 18 years old for free, so I’m going to take care of the kid today. Somebody did it for me, I’m doing it for the kid,” O’Neal told Reed.
Brittany Keith, a single mom who works for the Division of Family and Children Services, said her son already is 6-feet-2 inches tall with a foot that’s still growing. She said they only got shoes that fit him now, so O’Neal told them to stay in touch.
“It’s just shocking and so overwhelming,” she said of the five pairs of sneakers and five pairs of dress shoes that are now part of her son’s wardrobe.
“When he told us how many pairs he was going to give my son Zach, I started tearing up. No one has ever done anything as generous as that,” she said.
“For him to not even know me or my son, it’s so overwhelming. It just warmed my heart. I still can’t really eat. My stomach is still not sure this is for real,” she told The News.
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