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Shaquille O'Neal holding a microphone and smiling, teen opening a box, and teen holding a pair of big red shoes (inset)

Shaquille O'Neal Sends New Shoes To Teen With Size 23 Size

Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for TechCrunch and YouTube/ KCTV

Teen Can't Find Shoes to Fit His Large Size 23 Feet - Then Shaq Shows Up

The celebrity and former NBA star solved a huge problem for this kid.

A teen in Missouri was having trouble finding shoes that fit him. He appealed to local news outlets and tried to find a solution online. But because of his large size, it was hard to find a reasonable and affordable option. Then Shaq stepped in to save the day.

Appealing to the Community

Teen in a Marvel shirt gives an interview

Shaq helps teen who can't find shoes in his size


Jor’el Bolden had been looking for shoes for months. The teen is a size 23, which isn’t available in stores. Instead, he needed to find someone to make him custom shoes, which can cost more than a thousand dollars.

That kind of money for a pair of shoes wasn’t realistic for Bolden and his mother, Tamika Neal, so they created a GoFundMe account to raise money for some. In the meantime, Bolden squeezed his feet into the largest pair of shoes he could find, a size 22, which is the largest available commercial size. It was painful and hard.

When local news outlets found out about the campaign and the son and mother shared their story, the support they received was flooring. They soon collected more than their initial $9,500 goal.

“I’m overwhelmed and excited because [his foot size] is something I don’t have control over, but as a parent, not being able to provide something that your kid needs... it does something to you," Neal told KCTV. "Having people reach out and pull through for us was amazing.”

A Superstar Steps In

Someone else who had to deal with being larger than his peers growing up was Shaquille O’Neal. He heard about Bolden’s story and related to the kid, so he reached out himself.

Entertainment Tonight, they messaged me, and she was like, ‘Someone special wants to talk to you,’” Neal recalled to the outlet. The next thing she knew, she was giving her number to producers, who forwarded it to O’Neal for a Facetime call.

“[Jor’el] didn’t have a shirt on,” Neal recalled of the surprise. “I said, ‘I’m sorry he doesn’t have a shirt on’ and [Shaq] said ‘What’s up big sexy?’”

O’Neal chatted with the teen for a bit, and they said goodbye. Less than a week later, three big boxes showed up.

A Wonderful Surprise

Inside the boxes were new clothes, at least 20 pairs of shoes, and some personal items from O’Neal’s closet, including a Papa John’s tee that Shaq once wore for a commercial.

“It’s better than Christmas morning, Santa didn’t send this, Shaq did,” Neal said.

Now, Bolden is able to put the money raised from the GoFundMe toward his future, when he will eventually require new shoes.

“Thank you for taking the time and the money that you have earned to give to me when I needed it,” Bolden added. "Thank you for all of the things that will come from it and that already have.”

Ask And You Shall Receive

It can be hard to have a notable difference from your peers, especially when it’s a physical thing like shoe size that requires you to buy custom items to live. But it's also important to remember that those differences are what make us special, and as this story proves, it’s okay to ask for help.

Had this teen and his mom not reached out to their online communities for support, O’Neal would have never heard their story. The fact that he did and contributed is a testament to all of the other non-celebrity folks out there who helped spread the word to make this teen’s life a little easier.

At the end of the day we all need help sometimes, so don’t let pride get in the way. And if you are in a position to help someone else, know that your contribution will go a long way in that person’s life. Community is what we make it, and as this story proves community can be a pretty wonderful thing.

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