Nuevo Culture

Afro-Latino Teen Receives Heartfelt Gift from Shaquille O’Neal — Here’s What Happened

Texas teen Joseph Gamez couldn’t find the size 22 cleats he needed to play high school football. Without the necessary gear, he was going to football practice in his socks. But thanks to generous donations from his community and beyond from the likes of people like Shaquille O’Neal, things are looking up. 

“He just outgrew his last pair of cleats,” Gamez’s mother, Tiffany Magee, told the CBS affiliate in San Antonio. “I made him squeeze his feet into them. When he got finished [playing football], we noticed that he was limping … and he’s like, ‘My toes are touching the edge!’”

O’Neal found out that Gamez, whose father is of Mexican descent, needed shoes after an online post by his mother was shared across social media. The NBA legend, other pro-athletes, and a couple of nonprofit organizations stepped in to assist the 14-year-old player, who stands at 6’9 and weighs 395 lbs. Not only did they help Gamez secure a few pairs of cleats, they donated clothes to the entire family, whose house burned down a few months ago.

With the help of local media, the news about Gamez got back to O’Neal, who sent him thousands of dollars in clothes and size 22 shoes, including sneakers and dress shoes. Before attending college at Louisiana State University and getting drafted in the NBA, O’Neal played high school basketball in San Antonio.

Along with O’Neal, other pro-athletes donated to Gamez’s cause, including Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs, former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson and Miami Dolphins tackle Terron Armstead.

“I’m from San Antonio, you’re from San Antonio. I’m always [going to] make sure you’re straight,” Shaquille O’Neal told Gamez over the phone. “I love you guys.”