Teen who needs size 23 shoes gets special call from Shaquille O’Neal

Xavier Roger


  • Eric Kilburn Jr., a 14-year-old from Michigan, has size 23 feet. Having such large feet has been a significant challenge, with his family struggling for years to find shoes that fit.
  • After the Kilburn family shared their story with the USA TODAY Network, Eric received widespread messages of support. Both Puma and Under Armour offered to make the teen custom shoes.
  • Basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, who wears size 22 shoes, also surprised Eric with a special call this week.
Eric Kilburn with shoes that were created by Reebok for Shaquille O'Neal, but gifted to the 14-year-old who has struggled to find shoes that fit.

When Eric Kilburn Jr.’s phone rang around 6 p.m. Wednesday, he answered to hear the unmistakable voice of basketball star Shaquille O’Neal.

“I was flabbergasted,” Eric, a Michigan 14-year-old, said. “My soul left my body for a moment, I was so shocked.”

The call has been the icing on the cake – or perhaps the laces on the shoes as Eric’s mother Rebecca says – to a month of March madness after Hometown Life, part of the USA TODAY Network, wrote about the Kilburn family’s quest to find size 23 shoes for Eric.

The story struck a nerve among readers who sought to help Eric get shoes that fit. Advice from readers included shoe-cobbling instructions, company recommendations and most commonly, urging the Kilburns to “reach out to Shaq,” is known for kindness and generosity.


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