Isaiah Payton and his friend Damean Spear were leaving a high school football game when they were struck by gunfire. Spear was hit in the leg and able to leave the hospital. Payton was hit in the spine, causing him to be paralyzed from the neck down. Because he will require long-term disability care, the hospital refused to release him to until his mom was able to move to the first floor. Shaq heard this and leaped into action.
"We found [Isaiah’s mother, Allison Wood] a house in College Park in a nice area," O'Neal told the local NBC affiliate. Shaq also said he's going to furnish the home and pay the family's rent for a year, saying it's "sad because her son is paralyzed from the chest down and no mother should have to go [through] that."
Several organizations are assisting Shaq in this endeavor. The CEO of Papa John’s, Rob Lynch, and the chairman of the board, Jeff Smith, personally donated money to help secure the property. The City of Atlanta Fire Department is putting together a budget for Allison Wood and her family while Atlanta's mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, is also working with the family. This community effort reflects the emotions that prompted O'Neal to help the family.
"I was watching the story and it’s just sad," Shaq said. "It could have been any one of us. It could have been my son. It could’ve been your cousin."