Lifestyle & Human Interest

Shaquille O'Neal Provides Home for Mom Struggling To Care for Son Who Was Paralyzed in Shooting


On Aug. 17, life changed drastically for Allison Wood and her 12-year-old son Isaiah Payton. Isaiah was attending a high school football game when two shooters arrived, shooting at each other before ending up shooting Isaiah and another young man.

While the other victim — who was three years older than Isaiah — was able to get treatment and go home, Isaiah suffered a much more disheartening prognosis, which was explained on the GoFundMe set up for his family.

“My son, Isaiah Payton, is an active 12-year-old kid who loves sports such as football and basketball,” the site reads. “He dreamed of being a football player when he grew up.”

“Unfortunately, while attending a high school football game, he was shot twice; in the chest and near his liver. He has been in the hospital for 2 weeks, is currently unable to breath on his own, paralyzed from the chest down, undergoing many tests, and is on a feeding tube.”

“Any donation you make will help make a difference towards his treatments and medical bills.”

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As of Oct. 21, the fundraiser sits at almost $7,000 — but Wood has faith that this situation will be used for good.

“I believe in miracles,” Wood told WSB-TV, according to AJC, “and God — he is a powerful man.”

“(God) has something that he really wants you to do,” Wood reminded her son. “He didn’t keep you here for no reason.”

As Isaiah’s story circulated, it caught the attention of celebrity athlete Shaquille O’Neal, known for his stature as well as his generous heart. When O’Neal heard Isaiah was unable to return home because it was not properly equipped for his needs, O’Neal stepped in to help.

Working with Rob Lynch, Papa John’s CEO, and Jeff Smith, Papa John’s chairman of the board, O’Neal proposed a solution for the wounded family.

“I reached out to the family because I wanted to see the son and I said he’s not going to release the sign until she’s able to move on the first floor,” O’Neal told WXIA-TV. “So, we found her a house.”

“I’m going to pay her rent for the year and I’m going to give her some furniture and it’s sad because her son is paralyzed from the chest down and no mother has to go through that.”

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O’Neal said seeing the story saddened him because it was such a random, heartless event that no one could have predicted. It could have affected anyone, and he wanted to do what he could to help them get back on their feet.

“I was watching the story and it’s just sad,” he said. “It could have been any one of us. It could have been my son … It could’ve been your cousin … and then she was living in a one-bedroom apartment with her two boys so we found her a house in College Park in a nice area.”

“I’m going to get her some Ring cameras, on me,” he continued. “I’m going to give her some furniture, I’ll give her some TVs and I’m gonna pay her rent off for a year and help her get back on her feet.”

The financial help went beyond the basics, and O’Neal must have known the Ring cameras would help the family feel more secure after their ordeal. He clearly wants them to not only have a house, but to feel safe and comfortable and enjoy their home.

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