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Shaquille O’Neal reaches out to family of boy who accidentally shot self on Instagram

Shaquille O’Neal wipes tears from his eyes at the unveiling of a statue of him in front of Staples Center in March. O’Neal has reached out to an Atlanta-area family whose son, 13, died after accidentally shooting himself while streaming live on Instagram.
Shaquille O’Neal wipes tears from his eyes at the unveiling of a statue of him in front of Staples Center in March. O’Neal has reached out to an Atlanta-area family whose son, 13, died after accidentally shooting himself while streaming live on Instagram. The Associated Press

Former NBA great Shaquille O’Neal has offered to pay for the funeral of a 13-year-old Georgia boy who accidentally shot himself live on Instagram.

Malachi Hemphill, 13, was playing with a gun live on Instagram when it fired, killing him, in his Forest Park, Ga., home on April 10. His mother, Shaniqua Stephens, was downstairs at the time and heard a loud bang, reported the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She discovered he had accidentally shot himself with a 9mm semi-automatic pistol while his smartphone streamed on Instagram Live.

“He was my only son,” Stephens told the newspaper. “He was only just 13. Just the thought of me seeing him on the floor will never leave my brain.”

She said she did not know how Hemphill came to have the gun, the newspaper reported.

Hemphill’s godmother, Shantirea Bankston, told NBC 11 that O’Neal stopped by the family’s home Thursday to offer to pay for the funeral services. Bankston said the family was not prepared to cover the expense given Hemphill’s young age.

In a statement, O’Neal said he was moved to help the family after hearing of Hemphill’s death. “No mother should have to go through this,” he said. “I can only imagine the pain that she and all of Malachi's family must be feeling.”

NBA all-star Shaquille O'Neal made a surprise visit to the Gainesville Police Department after viewing a viral video of an officer's response to a noise complaint.

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