Shaq has joined forces with Reebok to help the teenager who has bigger feet than him.
Former football player Shaquille O’Neal, known as Shaq, has stepped in to help a 6ft10 boy from Michigan who pleaded for help to find shoes for his size 23 feet.
Eric Kilburn Jr. from Ortonville near Flint made headlines in March when he and his parents described their struggles finding the right shoes for him.
According to Daily Mail, “had been wearing size 22 shoes, but they were too small and caused painful calluses, blisters, and ingrown toenails.”
“His mom Rebecca, 36, pleaded for help finding shoes to house his feet, given that the average American male shoe size is 10.5.”
Detailing her family’s difficulty in finding the shoes that would fit his son perfectly, the mom told Today.
“I have spent hours crying, feeling like I’ve failed my child because I’m not able to find what he needs.”
And the difficulties in finding the right shoes have led to several health issues as the boy had remained in constant pain and discomfort from wearing small-sized shoes that wouldn’t fit him.
Eric has undergone six surgical procedures on his feet to fix in-grown toenails and even permanently remove the nails of his two big toes.
“At 14, he’s still growing. Most kids this big and tall at this age have an endocrine disorder, and he does not. He has no health issues with exponential growth,” said Rebecca.
“At one stage, Eric was forced to wear Crocs for two years, even during the middle of winter, because there were no other options available to him apart from pricey $1,500 custom orthotics that he would quickly grow out of.”
The Michigan mom said it’s really frustrating as a mother unable to find the right fit for him.
“It’s frustrating as his mom and not being able to find shoes, which is such a basic need. I can’t find shoes for my teenager. What can I do when his feet grow?” Kilburn told Today.
“The orthotics catalog was mainly Velcro shoes. Eric was like, ‘I’d rather be barefoot. It’s hard enough to stand out like he does. You don’t want to be the giant kid walking down the hallway in old man Velcro shoes.”
Last month, when Rebecca posted about her struggles on Facebook, a local Michigan reporter published Eric’s story, which went viral and gained the attention of many famous and big brands, including Nike, Puma, Under Armour, and Reebok.
“We are in rarefied space, there are not that many people in the world in these sizes,’ the company’s Senior Director of Footwear Development Robb Cropp said. ‘We had to help. We know the importance of sports to kids and their development,” Under Armour said in a statement.
While Puma is also looking for something similar to do, Reebok sent Eric five pairs of Shaq’s custom size 22 shoes last week to find some relief.
“Since receiving, Eric’s been thrilled to be able to wear these shoes and even shared with us for the first time in years he couldn’t believe he even had options on different color ways and styles he could wear,” the brand said in a statement.
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Sources: Today – Daily Mail