"Mom couldn't afford shoes," O'Neal told local media, according to People. "The kid had big feet, and I just kind of reminisced back about how that used to be me, my mom and my dad."
When O'Neal was 18, his father asked around for size 18 penny loafers his son could wear to the prom, CNN reported. Friedman's Shoes store owner Bruce Teilhaber gave O'Neal a free pair. Now the 47-year-old is returning the favor 10-fold for Zach, buying shoes for the teen at the store where O'Neal has been a long-time customer.
“I thought this was a good thing to do,” O’Neal said. “Mom and kid. Kid plays basketball and Bruce did it for me, and I just want to return the favor.”
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“I was like, ‘Woah. You want to buy me shoes? Of all people?’” Zach said.
Keith said O’Neal’s kind gesture will help a lot.
“I won’t so much have to worry about buying him dress shoes,” she said. “He hasn’t had a pair of dress shoes in maybe about four or five years because it’s been hard trying to find the ones that actually fit.”
Inside Edition reported that O'Neal offered to stay in contact with Zach as he practices his basketball skills.
“For me it was just very touching, very heartfelt, to know there is someone out there that has his back,” Keith said.