Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal teamed up with Papa John’s to donate a year’s rent in a new home to an Atlanta woman whose 12-year-old son was paralyzed in a shooting during a football game.
O’Neal, along with two members of the pizza chain’s board, contributed the funds to Isaiah Payton’s family. The boy’s family was living in a one-bedroom apartment that wasn’t easily accessible for people with disabilities. O’Neal said he is helping furnish the home as well.
“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,” he told 11 Alive. “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 to that.”
Isaiah Payton was shot through the spine in August after a football scrimmage between two high schools. Another teen was also wounded and treated for minor injuries.
Allison Woods, Isaiah’s mother, said relearning how to care for her son forced her to leave her job and added financial stress to her emotional turmoil.
“I was watching the story and it’s just sad. It could have been any one of us,” O’Neal told the station. “It could have been my son. It could’ve been your cousin and she was living in a one-bedroom house with her two boys so we found her a one-bedroom 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."
According to 11 Alive, the City of Atlanta Fire Department is providing Woods a budget for the year as well.
A 15-year-old was arrested earlier this week in connection with the shooting. He was charged with aggravated assault.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.