Michigan Teen With Size 24 Feet Gets Custom Made Shoes From Under Armor
Eric Kilburn Jr. was born as a regular baby weighing eight pounds. However, he grew up to become a towering, articulate young man with exceptionally large feet for a teenager.
Feet Too Big For Normal Footwear
Standing at six-foot-ten, Eric became a defensive tackle at Goodrich High School. Although his unique growth rate gave him an edge in football, it also made finding shoes that could fit him quite challenging.
His feet seemed to grow every six months, and by the time he was fifteen years old, he wore a size 22 shoe - the largest that any sporting company had ever made. Soon even this size became inadequate, causing blisters and muscle deformations, leaving Eric's mother, Rebecca with no option but to purchase specially-made orthopedic shoes at a steep price of $1,500 per pair.
Michigan Mom Asks For Help
Rebecca pleaded with sporting goods companies for help, but her pleas went unnoticed until a friend started a fundraiser to buy two of these expensive shoes for Eric. The fundraiser was reported on by Hometown Life, and the story went viral, drawing the attention of PR firms of Under Armour, Puma, and basketball star, Shaquille O'Neil, known for his generosity.
Making A Special Size Shoe
Representatives of the two companies measured Eric's feet and after a lengthy process, donated four pairs of cleats and two pairs of trainers to the school, which were then given to Eric as a gift, enabling him to maintain his amateur athlete status.
According to USA Today, Eric was thrilled with the new shoes and exclaimed, "It's mind-boggling, the difference it made, especially in terms of traction." However, the shoe companies declined to reveal the size of the shoes as there are no industry specifications for shoes of that magnitude, and Eric's feet were wider than usual.
A Proud And Happy Mother
At the Martians' first JV football scrimmage that season, Eric's mom watched her son play without any impediments to his mobility and couldn't hold back her tears. "It was a gift to see him perform to the best of his ability without any hindrance," she said. "It was full circle emotion and just happiness to see him have the same opportunities as other kids on the field."
Shaquille O'Neil Helps With Measurements
The story doesn't just end there. Shaquille O'Neil, who has helped many young men find clothes and shoes that fit, took the initiative to send a package of shoes and clothing to Eric's family.
He also sent his personal tailor to measure Eric for two suits: one for his prom and another for homecoming that would have a purple and red paisley lining. Reebok, Shaq's sponsor, also included a letter in the package. It said that they hoped the shoes they sent would be a good fit for Eric and bring him some relief.
They promised to support and assist Eric every step of the way. Unfortunately, Eric won't be able to wear the size 22 shoes that Shaq wears, but he will have plenty of other stylish and comfortable options to choose from.
Mom Creates Website To Help Other Kids
Inspired by the kindness they received, Eric's mother, Rebecca, decided to pay it forward by creating bigshoenetwork.org. The website will help other teens like Eric find shoes that fit, with a focus on low-income households who may not be able to afford oversized shoes for sports.