14-Year-Old Football Player Who Wears Size 23 Shoes Gets Great News From Under Armour, Puma

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Imagine trying to buy shoes for your 14-year-old son when he wears a size bigger than what Shaq wears.

That’s exactly the predicament Michigan mom Rebecca Kilburn found herself in as her son, Eric Jr., saw his growing foot expand to a size 23. The 6-foot-10 teenager, who is still growing, now has a foot that is one size bigger than the size 22s that Shaq famously wore throughout his NBA career.

You don’t exactly get on the Internet and find many shoe brands that are making size 23s. “I have spent hours crying feeling like I’ve failed my child because I’m not able to find what he needs,” Rebecca Kilburn told Today.com.

6-foot-10 14-year-old football player Eric Kilburn Jr. got good news this week when Under Armour and Puma stepped up with promises to make special size 23 shoes for the boy. / Rebecca Kilburn / Facebook

During his freshman football season at Goodrich High School, ill-fitting shoes led to foot problems including ingrown toenails and a sprained ankle.

So mom, who is 6-foot2 (Eric Sr. is 6-foot-5, Eric Jr’s brother is 11 and stands 5-foot-11) went national with the family’s story and now there’s good news — Eric’s getting cleats that fit.

This past Saturday, Rebecca shared the news that Under Armour is stepping up for her son by sending its senior director of footwear development to scan Eric’s foot before heading to the lab to create shoes for the football player.

And that’s not the only brand that wants in on fixing Eric Kilburn’s shoe problem.

“We are meeting with PUMA next week as well for sneakers and basketball shoes!!!,” mom wrote in a jubilant Facebook update. “We have so many messages from companies and people who want to help that we are fielding right now, and we are beyond grateful. It has been such a whirlwind!

“We will not forget Mauri shoes with City Slickers Shoes in Greektown, and Pingree Detroit who were the original companies who said they would help us develop something so he can have shoes, when I and others had spent a year calling and emailing companies to be told ‘sorry we can’t help you’ repeatedly.”

This is huge news when you consider the Kilburn family was told they could buy custom orthotics for $1,500 that the boy would grow out of.

“The orthotics catalog was mainly Velcro shoes. Eric was like, ‘I’d rather be barefoot.’” Rebecca explained to TODAY. “It’s hard enough to stand out like he does. You don’t want to be the giant kid walking down the hallway in old man Velcro shoes.”

As if the Under Armour and Puma news isn’t great enough, there’s more good news to come out of this story. Mama Kilburn now runs a Facebook group — the “Big Shoe Network” — where people can sell large shoes. The group has 1,100 members.

Shaq wore a size 22, but his foot is actually smaller

In 2021, Shaq Diesel clarified the story about how he wore size 22 basketball shoes.

“My shoe size is 20 but I like to wear a 22 because when I was young we couldn’t afford proper shoes so I had to wear my shoes tight,” he told Footwear News. “[Now] I always get my shoes too big to make sure I have room.”

These days, Shaq isn’t wearing too many shoes that he has to lace up.

“I’d rather do that than have to bend down and tie my shoe. My workout consists of just cardio and lifting weights. No more running, no more jumping. I’m more of a slip-on guy,” Diesel added.

Written by Joe Kinsey

Joe Kinsey is the Senior Director of Content of OutKick and the editor of the Morning Screencaps column that examines a variety of stories taking place in real America.

Kinsey is also the founder of OutKick’s Thursday Night Mowing League, America’s largest virtual mowing league.

Kinsey graduated from University of Toledo.

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