Basketball legend and media personality Shaquille O’Neal is helping a 12-year-old boy’s family after he was shot by a stray bullet in Atlanta and later paralyzed, WXIA reported.
Isaiah Payton was leaving a high school football game between Mays and Carver High Schools when he and another boy were struck by bullets on August 17. The other student, Damean Spear, was shot in the leg and was later released from the hospital.
Payton, who was shot in the spine, became paralyzed from the chest down, requiring long-term care.
Atlanta Police arrested a 15-year-old boy in connection with the shooting incident, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
O’Neal later learned Payton couldn’t be released from the hospital because his home was not equipped to handle his disability. That’s when he decided to step in with his donation.
“I reached out to the family because I wanted to see the son and I said he’s not going to release the sign until she’s able to move on the first floor. So, we found her a house. I’m going to pay her rent for the year and I’m going to give her some furniture and it’s sad because her son is paralyzed from the chest down and no mother should have to go to that,” O’Neal said.
The City of Atlanta Fire Department is pitching in, joining Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms who is also supporting the initiative.
O’Neal said Papa John’s CEO Rob Lynch and Jeff Smith also chipped in, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The 47-year-old former basketball player recently became the first Black board member for the pizza franchise. In March, it was announced that O'Neal would become their brand ambassador, Blavity reported.
O’Neal has consistently provided assistance to the community. He recently purchased 10 pairs of shoes for a teenager who couldn’t afford to buy shoes in his size, which is an 18.