TAMPA – Little did 8-year-old Mekhi realize that as he watched television his all-time favorite basketball player would appear on a commercial personally delivering pizzas but he never could guess where this commercial would lead him next. Mekhi innocently asked his mother if she could call or text O’Neal and ask him to deliver a pizza to his house. “At first, I just looked at him with a blank stare and then thought to myself, yeah right, I don’t have Shaq’s telephone number. I can’t just call or text him and ask him to bring a pizza over here,” said Mekhi’s mother, Tawanna Chamberlain.
But the boy was convinced that it was a perfectly reasonable request to call one of the most famous NBA players of all time and he truly believed that his mother knew how to contact O’Neal. Mekhi went as far as bringing her the cell phone to call O’Neal and he persisted. His poor mother didn’t know what to do or how to do it and felt even more pressure with her young son having so much confidence in her. Feeling like she couldn’t let her child down, she got the idea to send a “Hail Mary DM” to O’Neal on Instagram. She thought he would never see the message or read it but Chamberlain sent it anyway because her son was watching and he was counting on her.
A few days passed but every day Mekhi would ask her, “Did Shaq text you back yet?” while looking for his pizza. He truly believed his favorite player wouldn’t let him down. His mom reminded her son that O’Neal is a busy man but told him that perhaps when he isn’t so busy, O’Neal will write back.
Then it happened! Three days later O’Neal sent a video message on Instagram to Mekhi and his mother was in complete shock. “I showed Mekhi the video before he went to school and he was super-surprised! He couldn’t believe that his favorite player had actually sent him a personal video message. It was a truly special moment,” said Chamberlain.