After hearing the heart-wrenching story of a 12-year-old Atlanta boy who was paralyzed from the chest down after getting shot, Shaquille O’Neal helped donate a home to the boy’s mother.
The Basketball Hall of Famer partnered with fellow Papa John’s board members Rob Lynch and Jeff Smith, as well as Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the City of Atlanta Fire Department, in the effort, according to a report from WXIA-TV.
Isaiah Payton was shot on Aug. 17 after a fight broke out following a high school football scrimmage between George Washington Carver and Benjamin E Mays. He was in critical condition after being taken to the hospital, and his mother later revealed that he is unlikely to ever walk again.
Because he needs long-term disability care, Payton’s mother, Allison Woods, said she had to quit her job. Not only that, but her son was unable to leave the hospital because his home was not handicap accessible. That led to the team effort to help his family, as O’Neal told WXIA-TV.
“I was watching the story and it’s just sad. It could have been any one of us. It could have been my son. It could’ve been your cousin and she was living in a one-bedroom house with her two boys so we found her a one-bedroom house in College Park. Nice area. I’m going to get her some ring cameras on me. We’re going to give her some furniture, TVs and pay her rent off for a year and help her get on her feet.”
Investigators have identified a 15-year-old suspect, whose name is being protected since he is a minor. The suspect is being charged with aggravated assault for shooting Payton in the spine, as well as 16-year-old Damean Spear, who was treated for minor injuries.
O’Neal has been active in the philanthropic community, especially since his retirement. Just on Monday, he visited a Long Beach, California, school to speak to middle schoolers and bought a 13-year-old 10 pairs of size-18 shoes in May when he heard his family had difficulty affording them.
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