The death of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant left many Americans heartbroken. The loss was felt hardest by L.A. residents and his fellow NBA players. But Shaquille O’ Neal, Bryant’s former teammate with the Lakers, decided to do something positive for a fan who was also mourning the NBA star’s death.
According to Sports Illustrated, Patrick Martin was shopping for a laptop at his local Best Buy store when he saw that Shaq was in the same store. He approached the NBA superstar and expressed his sympathies for the deaths of Bryant, and also Shaq’s sister, Ayesha Harrison-Jex who passed away after her battle with cancer in October of last year.
O’ Neal, moved by Martin’s gesture, offered to pay for his laptop. “Get the nicest one in here and I’ll pay for it,” Shaq said. Martin detailed the encounter in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
Last year, O’ Neal donated a home to teenager Isaiah Payton, who was shot and paralyzed while leaving a high school football game. When Shaq found out that he was stuck at the hospital because his family’s home was not accessible for a paralyzed person, he reached out to Payton’s mother. “We found her a house,” he told WXIA Atlanta. “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.”
He also donated $20,000 to Lafayette High School to give students a “jump-start” in its fundraising effort to remodel its weight room.
Days after Bryant’s death, Shaq opened up on a TNT pregame special. He explained how the tragedy has affected him:
“We up here, we work a lot, and I think a lot of times we take stuff for granted. Like, I don’t talk to you guys as much as I need to. The fact that we’re not gonna be able to joke during his Hall of Fame ceremony.”
O’ Neal recently announced that he will donate the money raised by his Super Bowl Fun House party in Miami to the families of the others who lost their lives in the helicopter crash that killed Bryant. In a Twitter post, he explained that he struggled with holding the event so soon after Bryant’s death, but decided that his former teammate would want him to continue. “But in thinking what would Kobe want, what would he do? Kobe would want us to push through and celebrate life,’” he said.
Bryant’s passing has affected the nation, but it is fortunate that some, like Shaq, are using it to spread positivity. Hopefully, others will follow suit.
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