Shaquille O'Neal to Pay for Funeral of Teen Who Accidentally Killed Himself

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistApril 15, 2017

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 24: Former Los Angeles Lakers player Shaquille O'Neal speaks after unveiling of his statue at Staples Center March 24, 2017, in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Four-time NBA champion Shaquille O'Neal has offered to cover all funeral costs for Malachi Hemphill, a 13-year-old Georgia native who accidentally killed himself with a gun while streaming on Instagram Live this week.

On Friday, Julie Wolfe of WXIA reported O'Neal visited the family Thursday night and said he would cover everything.

"We just broke down and started crying because Malachi didn't have any insurance," godmother Shantirea Bankston said. "We weren't prepared to bury him this young. We didn't have insurance for him. So to have that from Shaquille O'Neal, it was a blessing and very touching, and we appreciate everything he does for the community."

The 45-year-old Hall of Famer provided a statement to WXIA about his decision to help the family during a time of need.

"No mother should have to go through this," O'Neal said. "I can only imagine the pain that she and all of Malachi's family must be feeling. I just wanted to do what I could to help them at such a terrible time."

Raisa Habersham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted Hemphill's mother, Shaniqua Stephens, "heard a loud bang" Monday night and went upstairs to find her son shot with a 9mm semi-automatic pistol. His phone remained active on Instagram Live.

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The Georgia teenager was transferred to a local hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. Maj. Chris Matson of the City of Forest Park Police Department told the AJC that detectives were in the process of investigating how he acquired the gun.

Funeral arrangements for Hemphill have not been made public. A GoFundMe account in his honor had raised $4,740 as of Saturday afternoon.