Shaquille O'Neal to pay for funeral of teen who accidentally shot himself on Instagram Live

The NBA star is stepping up to help.

"Anything he touched, he was good at."

Shantirea Bankston's moment of tragedy played out live on social media. Now, instead of anticipating a bright future for her 13-year-old godson, she is planning a funeral.

Friends were watching Malachi Hemphill on Instagram Live when he accidentally shot himself

“We were just standing around listening to the kids and they basically said he was on Instagram live playing with a gun and the gun went off," she said. “Mistakes happen, but something can be learned from this."

Bankston says some of Malachi's friends may have known he had the gun days before the fatal accident. 

"If one person, one or two people would have called his mom and let her know that he was playing with this gun, he may still be here today," she said. "That’s the message we are trying to put out there: if you see something, say something. And Maybe Malachi would still be here with his friends dancing and joking around." 

She's also urging parents to stay involved. 

“Check your kids' book bag. Check your kids room. Be involved with your kids, too, and see what they are doing and hopefully a good message will come out of this," she said. 

The story hit a nerve with teenagers and parents across the country, and support has been pouring in. Now, comfort is coming from an unexpected place: former NBA superstar Shaquille O'Neal. 

A call, and then a visit, came from the famous basketball player and Metro Atlanta resident Thursday night. He offered to pay for all of Malachi's funeral expenses. 

"We just broke down and started crying because Malachi didn’t have any insurance," Bankston said. "We wasn’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 do for the community."

The basketball icon has been quietly doing good works for Metro Atlanta families for years, always with a humble shrug.

In a statement sent to 11Alive, he said, "No mother should have to go through this. 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." 

© 2017 WXIA-TV


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