Shaquille O'Neal quietly paid for a random guy's engagement ring while standing in line

An unsuspecting guy at a shopping mall Zales got the surprise of his life this week while trying to pay off part of his engagement ring.

As the young man talked with the clerk at the jewelry store counter about how much he still owed for his ring and when he'd be able to pay it off, an extraordinarily large hand handed the clerk a credit card. Shaquille O'Neal, the 7' 1'' basketball legend known colloquially as "Shaq," overheard their conversation and decided to take care of the bill himself. No big announcement. No fanfare. He just handed over his credit card, shook the stunned customer's hand and patted him on the back, and that was that.

Someone caught the moment on video and shared it, which prompted Shaq's co-hosts on NBA on TNT to ask him about it the next day.


One of the first questions was, "You went to the mall, and went to Zales?!?" Not exactly where one would expect a person with a $400 million net worth to be hanging out on a Monday, but Shaq pointed out that he has a jewelry line at Zales. He went in to get some hoop earrings. Alrighty.

The young man at the checkout counter was so shy, Shaq said, and when he heard him talking about paying for his engagement ring, Shaq asked him how much it was and offered to pay for it.

At first, the guy refused, but Shaq insisted. And apparently, he does these random acts of generosity all the time.

He said he was recently in a furniture store (seriously, do multi-millionaires not shop online?) and saw a mom with an autistic daughter buying furniture. He just took care of their bill, just because.

"I'm into making people happy," he said. "I didn't mean for that to get out because I don't do it for that...I'm just trying to make people smile, that's all."

Shaq's generosity is well-documented, despite his preference to keep much of it under wraps. In a 2015 interview with Graham Bessinger, he explained how his father's charity—despite their family not having a lot of money—influenced him.

After giving the family's bag of hamburgers to a homeless veteran, his father got into the family car and told him, "If you ever make it big time, make sure you help those in need."

Shaq remembered those words and engages in charity in a range of ways, "because of what a man who made $30,000 a year taught me," he said. "And a woman who was a secretary who probably made $20,000 a year—they taught me that."

His giving comes "from the heart," he said. He's not looking for attention or accolades—he just wants to make people happy.

"I'm doing this because this is what I was taught," he said. "I'm doing it because to walk in there and see a family, put a smile on their face for a day, that's just awesome to me."

Shaq on helping others when no one is looking www.youtube.com

"That's my thing. I just want to make you smile," he said.

Shaq once asked a restaurant server how much of a tip she wanted, and when she quipped "$4,000," he gave it to her. When a 12-year-old was paralyzed by a stray bullet in a shooting, Shaq donated a whole house to his family. A fan who saw Shaq in a Best Buy offered condolences to the star for the untimely death of Shaq's friend and former teammate Kobe Bryant, as well as Shaq's sister Ayesha, who had recently passed away from cancer. He was treated to a new laptop—the best one in the store.

Many of us like to daydream about what we'd do if we had more money than we know what to do with. And many of us like to picture ourselves being generous with our wealth, helping out random folks who could use some help.

Charitable giving looks like a lot of different things, from funding organizations to distributing money through a foundation to handing over a bag of burgers to someone who's hungry. It's just delightful to see wealthy people who not only support official charitable organizations with money and time (Shaq serves as a national spokesperson for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and is a member of the national Board of Directors for Communities in Schools in addition to raising and donating millions of dollars to various causes) but who also just help out random people everywhere they go.

Kudos to Shaq's parents for teaching him so well, and kudos to him for taking their lessons to heart.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
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When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

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The airplane graveyard that 3 families call home is the subject of a stunning photo series.

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This article originally appeared on 09.18.15


What happens to airplanes after they're no longer fit to roam the skies?


An abandoned 747 rests in a Bangkok lot. Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images.

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

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James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

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To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

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AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

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