Shaquille O’Neal offered a bit of hope to a family recently affected by tragedy. Isaiah Payton of Atlanta is just 12-years-old and his life has been drastically changed as a result of gun violence. In August, the little boy was simply walking out of a high school football game at Lakewood Stadium when he was struck by a bullet not intended for him. The bullet lodged itself in his spine, paralyzing him from the chest down. When O’Neal heard about Payton’s story, he wanted to try to assist his family in any way he could, according to Today.
Payton’s paralysis majorly impacted his every day life and the lives of his family members. They didn’t have a home that was designed for easy navigation via a wheelchair, so he couldn’t even be released from the hospital. They were also faced with serious medical bills. Thus, O’Neal decided to lend them a helping hand. He payed their rent for an entire year and furnished a wheelchair accessible home for them in Atlanta. This way, at least some of the family’s stresses could be alleviated.
At a recent press conference, Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields spoke about the gun shot that left this little boy unable to walk.
“This was a reckless, heartless and cowardly act of violence that forever changed the life of a 12-year-old child and his family, and deeply affected another juvenile,” she said.
Payton has been raised by a single mother, Allison Wood, who was living with her two sons in a one bedroom apartment. Now, thanks to O’Neal, the family has a new home in a safe area in College Park.
In a recent interview, O’Neal described his reason behind wanting so badly to help this family. He knew it could have been his own child or family member that just so happened to have been the one caught up in the gunfire that forever changed Payton’s life.
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“I was watching the story and it was just sad. It could’ve been any one of us. It could’ve been my son… it could’ve been your cousin,” he pointed out in a recent interview.
An unnamed 15-year-old boy has been arrested in connection with the shooting that left Payton paralyzed.
This isn’t the first time O’Neal has gained recognition for helping other people. As The Inquisitr previously reported, last year, the basketball star was photographed comforting children that had just been involved in a car crash.