ST. MARTIN PARISH, La. (KLFY) – NBA legend and Acadiana’s favorite son Shaquille O’Neal opened up his heart and his wallet Saturday to help pay funeral expenses for Keshon Batiste, an 11-year-old from Breaux Bridge, who was killed in a car crash Friday, April 10.
Batiste, and 12-year-old Trayvon Alexander were backseat passengers in a vehicle that crashed into a ditch and struck a tree.
Both were pronounced dead at the scene.
Shaq’s good friend and former chief deputy for the Lafayette Parish Marshal’s office Phil Conrad tells KLFY that the former NBA star learned of the tragedy through the local news media.
He said Shaq was also sent a link to the Batiste family’s GoFundMe account that had been set up to help with the funeral cost.
“He (Shaq) called me and asked me to reach out to the family on his behalf, and get back with him.” Conrad said.
“When I called him back and told him that the family had raised over $3k in a GoFundMe, but was still short of what they needed, he immediately stopped what he was doing and sent the money to me, and I wrote out a check.”
Conrad said Shaq was willing to take care of all of the expenses for both families, however the Alexander family had insurance.
“He’s a big man, and his heart is even bigger.” Conrad said.
“He would truly give you the shirt off his back; you probably can’t fit it, but he would give it too you anyway. I’ve seen a few of his incredible gestures and will admit a time I was brought to tears.”
Conrad said on a recent trip to Acadiana, he and Shaq stopped by Best Buy to check out some of the store’s Apple products.
“A woman and her son were standing in line to pay for an X-box that the kid had been saving his money for and Shaq struck up a conversation with the mother. He learned that her family of seven all shared a small home, with one small television.”
Conrad said Shaq bought the family three television sets, one for each bedroom, and got the kid every X-box game available that day at Best Buy.
“That’s just him, he knows what its like to window shop and so he wants to make some dreams come true.”