Wake up with a Smile

Join our newsletter

Remember When: Shaquille O’Neal’s Incredible Gift To 12-Yr-Old Paralyzed In School Shooting

Shaquille O'Neal

In 2019, Shaquille O’Neal heard a story about a single mother who was struggling to care for her paralyzed son, so he stepped up and gave her an unbelievable gift.

On August. 17 of that year, two boys, Isaiah Payton, 12, and Damean Spear, 15, were hit by stray bullets when an argument escalated into a shooting at a high school football game in Atlanta, according to the APD. Damean was hit in the leg but fortunately didn’t suffer any long-term damage. Isaiah, however, was hit in the spine and it paralyzed him from the chest down.

In October, Shaq learned that doctors would not release Isaiah from the hospital because he did not have a handicapped-accessible home. At the time, he and his brother had lived in a one-bedroom apartment with their mother, Allison Wood.

The NBA star couldn’t stand the thought of Allison struggling to get her son out of the hospital. So, he found them a house in a safe neighborhood—and paid off the first year’s rent.

Along with finding the house and getting her on her feet, Shaquille O’Neal paid to have her entire home furnished, bought her a couple of TVs, and equipped the place with Ring cameras.

“No mother should have to go [through] that,” Shaquille O’Neal told The A-Scene. “I was watching the story and it’s just sad. It could have been any one of us … it could have been my son.”

Once Shaq’s random act of kindness hit the news, others joined in to help. Papa John’s CEO Rob Lynch and Chairman Jeff Smith gave a large donation towards the house. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms also donated, and the Atlanta Fire Department gave Allison a year-long budget as well.

This story’s featured image is by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images.

Want to be happier in just 5 minutes a day? Sign up for Morning Smile and join over 455,000+ people who start each day with good news.