Shaquille O’Neal Donates Rent to Atlanta Boy Paralyzed in Shooting

Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal has donated an entire year’s rent to an Atlanta woman whose 12-year-old son was struck in the spine by a stray bullet and paralyzed from the chest down as he was leaving a high school football game on Aug. 17, according to WXIA-TV.

It started when O’Neal realized that the boy, Isaiah Payton, couldn’t leave the hospital until he had a home equipped for his disability. So O’Neal found her a house and has promised to pay the rent for one year.

“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,” O’Neal told WXIA-TV’s Francesca Amiker. “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 through that.”

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The rent also will be paid by two others who joined in — Rob Lynch, the CEO of Papa John’s and Jeff Smith, the chairman of the board of Papa John’s also chipped in, according to WXIA-TV.

O’Neal has been a vocal advocate against gun violence.

“I was watching the story and it’s just sad,” O’Neal said in an interview with WXIA-TV. “It could have been any one of us. It could have been my son. It could’ve been your cousin and she was living in a one-bedroom apartment with her two boys so we found her a house in College Park. Nice area. I’m going to get her some ring cameras on me. We’re going to give her some furniture, TVs and pay her rent off for a year and help her get on her feet.”

Atlanta Police arrested a 15-year-old boy in connection with the shooting incident on Wednesday, the station reported, and he is being charged with aggravated assault.