The former professional basketball player won the hearts of social media users with how he handled the incident that's sure to become a core memory for the child.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on May 26, 2023. It has since been updated.
Celebrities usually are surrounded by fans who want to take pictures with them and it is not always possible for them to click pictures with everyone. However, some of them still make sure that they do their best despite their engagements. In a heartwarming video posted on Reddit by u/bewarethechameleon, Shaquille O'Neal is seen going out of his way to make a young fan's day. The former professional basketball player was busy talking to a few people when a young fan came and hugged him from the back.
Soon, the child was escorted away by a security person. That's when O'Neal turns and sees him being taken away. The person who was shooting the video quickly tells him, "Shaq, please one photo with him. He's your fan. One photo here." The former NBA player agrees and beckons the child back to him. The video ends with O'Neal posing for a photograph with his adorable young fan.
The Reddit video has more than 92k upvotes and is captioned, "A young fan is escorted away by security after giving Shaq a hug, after realizing what happened Shaq called him back over." Many on the social media platform appreciated the star for what he did for the kid. u/roseknight888 commented, "I'm just imaging him quietly saying, 'Sorry little buddy, Shaq didn't see you there.'"
u/Crazy_Canuck_888 wrote, "Shaq is one awesome human." u/33JimmietLee33 shared, "Met him twice and he was awesome to me both times. The second time we were shooting a commercial and he signed a basketball for me, which now resides in a glass case on my bookshelf." u/jamabastardinit expressed, "Good guy Shaq. I’m not a basketball fan but if I’m scrolling and see a video or story concerning him I’ll get into it for the free serotonin." u/Thick-Nebula-2771 commented, "Security guy respectfully doing his job, Shaq being Shaq - perfect as all things should be." u/Danc4498 wrote, "This is so adorable. Shaq knows how to make the masses love him."
O'Neal is known for his initiatives for children and for giving back to the community. As a young kid, the NBA star was sent to the Boys & Girls Club where he found a community and mentors who kept him on track with his athletic and academic goals, according to TODAY. “In the gym, there was a picture of one of the greatest basketball players ever — Julius Erving, Dr. J — and I would try to be him instead of focusing on being clumsy, tall or laughed at,” O’Neal said. He is now paying it forward.
On May 11, O'Neal opened another "Combaq Court" at The Shaquille O'Neal Boys and Girls Club in Atlanta. This is his fourth establishment after Newark, Miami and Las Vegas. He has taken it upon himself to refurbish basketball courts and other athletic equipment for kids in communities. "Be realistic — kids are in school from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and a lot of parents don’t come home at 3:00," he said. "So it's two hours for kids to be left alone... there are a lot of single-parent homes and moms who work two jobs. We offer them a safe place to play."
The other initiative that is close to his heart is "Shaq-to-school," which includes his giveaways to elementary school children. Recently, a Michigan teen, Eric Kilburn Jr. benefitted from it as he was finding it hard to get shoes with 23 feet size. The child received five pairs of Reebok sneakers and clothing from O'Neal. Moreover, he sent his personal tailor to Kilburn Jr.'s home to make sure that the gear fit him well. "That was me in '89," revealed O’Neal. "My father went to all the sports stores and couldn't find me (shoes)."