GOODRICH, Mich. (BVM) – Eric Kilburn Jr., a 6-foot-10 high school freshman athlete at Goodrich High School, is going viral on TikTok for needing US size 23/24 shoes. While Under Armour more recently noticed his cry for help, fans online are pleading with NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal to help the 14-year-old with his growing needs.
Many can recall that Shaq himself had trouble finding shoes for his famously-sized 22 feet – since it’s incredibly difficult to find over a size 20 in stores for men (and over 16 for women). It’s the reason why Shaq has gifted shoes to teenagers with bigger feet previously. Now, fans are tagging Shaq on social media to help Kilburn.
“My feet are still growing and I can’t get them to stop – I’m gonna have to pull a Cinderella or something and cut my toes off,” Kilburn told local Michigan news site MLive in an attempt to get help. “I’m getting blisters on the top of my feet because they don’t extend high enough or they aren’t wide enough.”
The desperate search for help all started because the last time Kilburn found shoes that fit him was when he saw sizes 21/22 at the Nike Outlet – but he quickly outgrew them. So, Kilburn’s mom, Rebecca, noted on her Facebook that she spent the past year calling and emailing companies such as Nike, Reebok and Adidas to help her son. No one paid attention – that is, until Under Armour representatives said they would fly out to help in March 2023.
Thanks to Under Armour, Eric had a 3-D model of his feet taken. The sportswear giant is fitting him in comfortable-fitting football cleats and basic sneakers. According to Rebecca’s Facebook, PUMA will soon help out with basketball shoes.
“This is my biggest foot ever that is for sure,” Robb Cropp, senior director of footwear development at Under Armour, told MLive. “I’ve been doing this about 30 years and I’ve never had anyone be this size.”
Watch below as the Michigan teen gets fitted for Under Armour’s largest ever pair of shoes.
Eric Kilburn Jr. didn’t hesitate Sunday to tell the Under Armour representative who came to measure his record-breaking feet what color and style of shoe he wanted. He likes the company’s Lockdown 6 basketball shoe in red. It was the first time since elementary school the 14-year-old was able to weigh in on the appearance of his footwear. The Kilburn family met with Robb Cropp, senior director of Footwear Development at Under Armour, at Bridgewood Church in Clarkston to get a 3D rendering of the teenager’s feet on Sunday, March 26. The 6-foot-10 Goodrich High School freshman went viral after an MLive-The Flint Journal story about his journey looking for shoes that fit his feet properly. He needed them in a size 23 or bigger, which are extremely difficult to find. Under Armour took a 3D rendering of Kilburn Jr.’s feet to create a mold that will then be used to make a shoe “from the ground up,” Cropp said. Click on the link in our bio for more of the teen’s story. 🎥: Brice Tucker | MLive.com #michigan #michigannews #michiganders #shoes #record
“It means everything to me,” Eric told MLive during his measurements. “Just having shoes that don’t cause blisters or just pain on my feet would mean the world.”
“The (shoe) reveal is going to be fire,” Under Armour’s TikTok account commented.
The custom shoes should take some weeks to complete. After that, Eric will be able to compete in high school sports to his full potential. He plays football and will likely also focus on basketball and field events for track and field.
While Under Armour has come to Eric’s rescue – the issue is that he’s still growing. He’ll need more and more pairs in the future, which is why Rebecca still has a GoFundMe fundraiser running. Although the fundraiser has reached over $23,000 so far, it’s important to note that one custom pair could go for more than $1,000.
As a means to give back, Rebecca is an admin for a private Facebook group called Big Shoe Network. The group’s purpose is to, “connect people in the search for hard-to-find shoe sizes.”
“I’m 6-foot-11 with size 20 shoes and have never been able to find shoes that fit my entire life,” wrote one user in the private Facebook group. “I’ve searched all over the web but haven’t been able to find size 20s so I currently am squeezing into size 18/19 shoes. If anyone has size 20 shoes available please let me know.”
The reactions to that post include comments from complete strangers giving suggestions. One even offered to ship a pair of his own shoes for a small price.
Needless to say, having shoes that fit is a basic human need. Eric’s story opens up the conversation for other retailers to manufacture inclusive shoes. Hopefully, Shaq sees Eric’s story and provides some help, too.