14 year old Eric Kilburn is not only way taller than his mom at 6'10" but mom was struggling trying to find shoes that fit her son. He needed a size 22 but no one makes them and he had literally outgrown every shoe on the planet. She was so frustrated that she posted online asking for help.
The average custom made sneakers would cost about $1500 each. The good news is she heard from Under-Armor and Puma that they could create shoes that Eric could wear.
But someone who also wears a size 22 shoe chimed in.
Shaq’s daughter read about Kilburn and how his family struggled to find the means for larger sizes. Kilburn’s insurance wouldn’t cover the cost, so the family resorted to a GoFundMe campaign which has to date raised about $24,000. But Shaq had a closet full of size 22 shoes, and he worked almost exclusively with Reebok who created his kicks.
“My daughter actually sent me that [article]. And it’s a nice story, but what got me was his mom, she’s very sad,” he said. “That was my mom’s story. I gotta step in. And if it was an 18 or 19 [size shoe], I probably would have to refer him, but the fact he said 22, I have some great shoes I’ll never wear. So I told my daughter to send me his information, which was sort of like a test for her too. She did a great job. She found them.”
“We contacted them, I talked to his mom,” O’Neal said. “And then I talked to Eric. I heard there were a couple of other companies sending him shoes, that’s good also. But I just wanted to just take care of it right away. When I see his mom crying, I see my mom. I had to wear the same pair of shoes three years in a row. I used to see my mom work extra jobs, just trying to get a little bit of money just to buy me shoes. There’s nothing like going to the store and seeing your mom taking a part-time mopping job just to make some money. It’s not a good thing.”
“I was flabbergasted,” Eric, a Michigan 14-year-old, said. “My soul left my body for a moment, I was so shocked.” Shaq had Reebok overnight him five pair of sneakers they created for him but hadn't sent. Under Armor and Puma could help but creating the shoes would take two months.
In his phone call to the Kilburn family, O’Neal, who wears size 22 shoes, empathized with Eric’s predicament. O’Neal told Eric that when he was the same age, his mom also couldn’t find the shoes he needed.
O’Neal told Eric Jr. he would like to get him dress shoes from a man he knows that makes them up to size 26, and also said to call if he needs anything.
Eric Jr. has already been in contact with O’Neal a second time, to express his gratitude when the Reeboks arrived the day after their call.
“When him and I were texting about shoes, (O’Neal) said, ‘There’s much more coming big man. Love you,’” Eric said. “This is the ultimate.”
Watch how a local Detroit station covered the story: