Shaquille O’Neal to Pay for Funeral of Slain 18-Year-Old Athlete: 'This One Hurts My Heart'
NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal is paying for the funeral of an 18-year-old athlete from Florida who was killed in a drive-by shooting last weekend.
Dexter Rentz, a standout football star from Ocoee High School who recently signed with the University of Louisville, was shot and killed in his hometown of Orlando on Saturday.
O'Neal, 48, heard about the tragedy the next day, and was so moved that he reached out to Rentz's parents and offered to pay for all of the funeral expenses, including a horse and carriage and a custom-made casket, he told ESPN.
"Whatever his mom wants," he said.
O'Neal — who won four championships during his time with the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat, but played for the Orlando Magic during his first years in the NBA — said he watched highlights of Rentz's high school games and was inspired by his athleticism and talent.
"He was on his way, he really was," O'Neal told the outlet of the up-and-coming football star. "I don't know what it feels like to lose a son, but I know what it feels like to lose someone."
It was only in October that O'Neal lost his sister Ayesha Harrison-Jex to cancer. Then, in January, O'Neal's longtime teammate Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.
"This one hurts my heart," O'Neal told ESPN. "It really does."
"I wish things like this would never go on," he added. "It's just so sad, and I want to be able to help his family. I wanted to take care of it."
Rentz's mother, Salisa Rentz Sinclair, told the Orlando Sentinel that her son was sitting in his car outside of his grandfather's house when someone fired at his vehicle.
His younger brother, Derrick, was sitting in the passenger's seat and immediately tried to help Rentz as he exited the vehicle and collapsed in the street from his wounds.
“Derrick pulled him back in the car and they called the paramedics and once the paramedics took too long, that’s when they tried to drive him to the hospital,” Rentz Sinclair told the newspaper.
“He stopped breathing. So they stopped the car to perform CPR to revive him," she recalled. “They saw police officers driving by, so they stopped and waved the police officers down to help.”
In a statement to the Orlando Sentinel, Louisville football coach Scott Satterfield said Rentz had a "contagious personality."
"[He] was able to light up a room with his smile," he said. "He was a great kid to be around and he will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Rentz family during this extremely difficult time."
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