ATLANTA — An Atlanta boy paralyzed in a shooting will soon live in a new home that is accessible to him thanks to basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal.
Isaiah Payton, 12, and Damean Spear, 15, were shot on October 17 after a high school football game, the Atlanta Police Department said. The shooting was a result of an escalated argument and Isaiah and Damean were not the intended targets, according to police.
Damean was shot in the leg and was treated and released. But Isaiah was paralyzed from the chest down by his gunshot wound and will require long-term care as a result of his injuries, police said.
“This was a reckless, heartless and cowardly act of violence that forever changed the life of a 12-year-old child and his family and deeply affected another juvenile,” said Atlanta police Chief Erika Shields.
O’Neal, who advocates against gun violence, found out that Payton, who is still hospitalized, could not be released until his family could move to the first floor of their apartment building, according to CNN affiliate WXIA.
“I was watching the story and it’s just sad. It could have been any one of us. It could have been my son. It could’ve been your cousin, and she was living in a one-bedroom apartment with her two boys, so we found her a house in College Park. Nice area,” O’Neal told WXIA.
But O’Neal didn’t stop there.
“I’m going to get her some Ring cameras on me. We’re going to give her some furniture, TVs and pay her rent off for a year and help her get on her feet,” he said.
O’Neal is not working alone. Papa John’s CEO Rob Lynch and Jeff Smith, the chairman of the Papa John’s board, helped with the home purchase. The Atlanta Fire Department is providing Isaiah’s mother with a budget for a year and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is contributing as well.
Earlier in the week, Atlanta police arrested a 15-year-old suspect in the case and charged him with aggravated assault. Investigators believe there was more than one shooter involved and are continuing to investigate, police said.