At over seven feet tall and three hundred pounds, Shaquille O’Neal is an intimidating figure but inside the four-time NBA champion is as soft as a teddy bear.
On January 17, 5-year-old Syari Sanders and her friend, 6-year-old Logan Braatz, were walking to a school bus stop in Atlanta when they were attacked by two dogs. Logan died of his injuries, but Syari survived.
After catching wind of the story, Shaq reached out to the family. Following Syrai’s release from the hospital, he invited the young girl and her family to the local “Rooms To Go” furniture store where he footed the bill for new furnishings to the Sanders home.
“He stayed in contact every day, he made sure she was alright, he came around, even now, he didn’t want to get on the camera because he didn’t want to do it for the news. But, yeah, he’s a great man to me,” Syria’s father Willie Sanders told FOX 5 Atlanta.
Shaq, who retired from playing in 2011, currently works as an NBA analyst for Atlanta-based TNT and he’s made the community his home. In October 2016, he bought a local Krispy Kreme shop and two months later he was sworn in as an honorary deputy with the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office.
Most recently, he came out to support Special Olympics Georgia during a polar plunge event at Lake Acworth in Cobb County, Georgia.
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(Photo credit: FOX 5 Atlanta)