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Shaq Style: A local teen thanks a basketball legend for his super-sized donation

By Julia Avery

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    INDEPENDENCE, Missouri (KCTV) — The Independence teen who wears a size 23 shoe is finally comfortable thanks to the Kansas City community and one big-name celebrity.

Jor’el Bolden first sat down with KCTV 5 in January to discuss his struggle to find shoes.

To find a size 23, they would need custom-made shoes, which can cost more than a thousand dollars. Bolden’s mother, Tamika Neal, made a GoFundMe account to raise the money to buy her son shoes that didn’t hurt his feet.

After the story aired, Kansas City poured in donations. More than $11,000 so far.

“I’m overwhelmed and excited because [his foot size] is something I don’t have control over but as a parent not being able to provide something that your kid needs – it does something to you- so just having people reach out and pull through for us,” said Neal. “It was amazing.”

The story also garnered national attention.

“Entertainment Tonight, they messaged me and she was like ‘someone special wants to talk to you’,” Neal said.

That someone special was retired NBA Star, Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq wanted to speak with Bolden and send him a gift. He got the phone number and made a Facetime call.

“[Jor’el] didn’t have a shirt on,” Neal said. “I said, ‘I’m sorry he doesn’t have a shirt on’ and [Shaq] said ‘What’s up big sexy?’”

Less than a week later, three big boxes showed up at Bolden’s door.

“It’s better than Christmas morning, Santa didn’t send this, Shaq did,” Neal said.

The boxes were filled with new clothes, new shoes, as well as items from Shaq’s own closet.

Jor’els favorite shirt was the Papa John’s shirt from Shaq’s days doing commercials for the company.

The most important box was filled with nearly 20 pairs of shoes.

Shaq wears a 22 wide, which fits Jor’el better than a regular 22, but he says a 23 would be more comfortable.

“They are big help for now,” Neal said. “but he will need a bigger shoe eventually and that’s what this money is for.”

Jor’el said the money will help as he prepares for his future.

“Thank you for taking the time and the money that you have earned to give to me when I needed it,” Bolden said. “Thank you for all of the things that will come from it and that already have.”

As for Jor’el’s future, he, like Shaq, dreams of becoming a professional athlete saying he hopes to become a boxer someday.

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