It Was Shaq Who Paid for Shaniya’s Funeral


Shaquille O'Neal in his latest incarnation as a Cavalier. O'Neal was so moved by the little girl's tragic death that he paid for all of the funeral expenses (Courtesy: Denver Post)

For the record, the usual child’s funeral costs about $4,500. It’s not chicken feed.

Basketball star Shaquille O’Neal paid for the funeral of a 5-year-old North Carolina girl after being moved by national news coverage of the case of Shaniya Davis, who police say was kidnapped and killed.

The Cleveland Cavaliers player was touched by the stories he saw and got in touch with the family to see what he could do to help, a spokeswoman for O’Neal said Thursday.

More than 2,000 people attended the girl’s funeral Sunday. Her body was found Nov. 16 beside a rural road.

Her mother, Antoinette Davis, who had reported the child missing six days earlier, is charged with human trafficking and child abuse involving prostitution. Mario McNeill is charged with murder, rape and kidnapping in the case.

“I was sitting at home watching it on the news and the story brought a tear to my eye,” O’Neal told The Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper.

Better make sure that Bradley Lockhart’s mitts aren’t on the money raised for the little girl’s funeral expenses. It was announced that the money already raised would be given to charities and organizations concerned with child abuse. It had better be; any money sent to a bank in the name of a missing or murdered child is still the property of the people who set up the account–either Bradley Lockhart or his sister Carey Lockhart-Davis. These people’s actions should be watched. I wouldn’t be surprised if more than $4,500 was raised; and that’s enough for any one to suddenly get greedy.

Art Spander from Real Clear Sports says it all about what I think about what Shaq did.

The holiday had nothing to do with it, although the timing was exquisite. The gesture by Shaquille O’Neal happened to be announced on Thanksgiving, and that gave greater meaning to a unique act of kindness.

We are too familiar with the manner some athletes have gained headlines away from their games. So many have been arrested, whether for serious offenses, Plaxico Burress pleading guilty to criminal possession of a weapon, or lesser ones.

If Shaq is guilty of anything, however, it’s sensitivity. Others may have shamed sports, made us ask “What’s the matter with these guys? Don’t they have a brain in their head?”

O’Neal provided a large percentage of pride. He did what’s right. Without being asked or coaxed.

Shaq is far from perfect. He is being sued for divorce. But he always has been a caring individual, raised in a military family by a stepfather who demanded discipline and respect.

Shaq may play a mean game of basketball, although now at age 37, he is too often injured, including currently, having not been in uniform for the Cleveland Cavaliers since mid-November because of a shoulder ailment.

In the game of life, as so many big men, O’Neal rarely is mean.

Perhaps he does not fit the mythical category of Gentle Giant. So we label him the Considerate Competitor. Or employ the description he often has used on himself, the Big Socrates.

Touched by the tragedy of 5-year-old Shaniya Davis, who police say was kidnapped and killed, and whose body was found a week and a half ago beside a rural road in North Carolina, O’Neal paid for the child’s funeral.

“I was sitting at home watching it on the news,” O’Neal told the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “and the story brought a tear to my eye.”

He saw what we all saw, hate, pain, tragedy, tales told repeatedly in modern society. A girl he didn’t know. A story we all know. Shaquille O’Neal was not content merely to step away.

He never has been.

Read the whole thing about Shaq. Some of that stuff I never knew about the guy. It just might restore your faith in people one more day.

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~ by blksista on November 27, 2009.

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