Shaq helps young man pay for engagement ring: 'I'm into making people happy'

Ree Hines
·3 min read

Shaq had his back!

NBA legend and sports broadcaster Shaquille O’Neal ran into a random stranger at a jewelry shop Tuesday and decided to make that man’s day by paying off an engagement ring he had on layaway.

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“I was in Zales, looking for some loop earrings,” the 49-year-old told his fellow analysts on "NBA on TNT" the following day. “I seen the guy coming in. He was just so shy. He was saying, 'Hey, how much do I owe to pay off my ring?'"

And when O’Neal overheard that question, he turned it around on the guy.

“I was like, ‘My man, how much is the ring?’” he recalled. “I’m not going to say the amount.”

But whatever amount was owed on the jewelry, the 7-foot-1 hoops great took care of it when he passed his credit card to the employee who was helping the customer.

Related: The basketball legend is paying a year's rent and furnishing a wheelchair-accessible home for the family of a 12-year-old boy who was paralyzed by a stray bullet.

O’Neal said he never meant for the story to get out and noted, “I don’t do it for that.” However, after a video of the incident made the rounds on social media shortly after it happened, he decided to open up about it.

“The guy just came in; he was a young kid, hardworking guy,” he explained. And O’Neal told the man, “’You know what? Tell your girlfriend I got it. Take care of her.'”

He said the man was reluctant to accept his gesture at first, but he simply replied, “Don’t worry about it. I do it all the time. I'm just trying to make people smile. That's all.”

And while masks covered both of their faces in the video, it seems safe to assume he did just that.

Related: The decision to come to someone else's aid was a slam dunk for the retired NBA great.

It was likely a standout event in the young man’s day, but it was nothing unusual for O’Neal, who said, “This is something I do every day.”

To prove that point, he said, “The other day, me and my mom went furniture shopping, and this lady, she had an autistic daughter. She was also looking to pay for some furniture. I just took care of her. I’m into making people happy. Whenever I leave the house, I just try to do a good deed.”

One person who can vouch for that is TODAY’s Craig Melvin. When Hoda Kotb shared Shaq’s latest random act of kindness on the show for Wednesday's Morning Boost, he followed it up by saying, “I can attest to it. Shaquille O’Neal has done other large things like that for people — never talks about it.”