GOODRICH, Mich. (BVM) – Eric Kilburn Jr. last made headlines as a 6-foot-10, 14-year-old who couldn’t find US size 23 shoes. Kilburn Jr.’s mom, Rebecca, spent time emailing companies such as Nike, Reebok, Adidas and Under Armour to help her son get some custom shoes. By this point, Kilburn Jr. had the two nails on his biggest toes permanently removed as an aftermath of wearing shoes that were just too small.
Now, Kilburn Jr. is a 6-foot-10 sophomore defensive tackle at Goodrich High School. The 15-year-old can finally play the sport he loves comfortably thanks to Rebecca’s efforts.
Kilburn Jr. broke a record when he was fitted by Under Armour for its largest custom pair ever. Even Shaquille O’Neal himself has a smaller size. The company completed custom cleats for Kilburn Jr. right as the 2023 football season began.
“Playing in the custom cleats has made a huge difference in traction on the turf field and I feel really confident and comfortable in the cleats,” Kilburn Jr. said.
Additionally, TayCo Brace is in the process of making Kilburn Jr. the “world’s largest ankle brace,” the company announced in September. It will help him with ankle stability and protection so that he can play safely. Mike Bean, an associate athletic trainer at Notre Dame, is the inventor of the TayCo External Ankle Brace.
“TayCo Brace has made Kilburn Jr. the same ankle braces that the Notre Dame team (and many other football players) wear,” Rebecca said. “I’m thrilled that he has been surrounded by individuals and companies willing to make him the equipment he needs.”
Watch a highlight of Kilburn Jr. playing with his custom cleats here.
Since Kilburn Jr. will play basketball too, Puma has agreed to measure him for some of its LaMelo Ball basketball shoes. Since there are no size 23 shoes, they are “Eric-size.”
“Having him wearing shoes and the custom-sized brace he requires is quite honestly a dream come true,” Rebecca said. “These companies have relieved our family of the stress and guilt of feeling that we could not provide what felt like such a basic need, and have given him a gift that extends beyond just footwear. It’s an overall boost in confidence for him and we are beyond grateful.”
There are also a few other records that he could capture soon.
Kilburn Jr. is going for the Guinness World Record for a teenager with the largest feet, according to USA Today. Additionally, if he grows past 7 feet tall, he could capture the Guinness record for largest feet in the world (Jeison Orlando Rodríguez Hernández who wears a US size 26 shoe currently holds the record).
Kilburn Jr. may already have the world record for “teenager with the largest hands,” but Guinness has not yet officially confirmed it, according to USA Today.
In terms of the future, Kilburn Jr. hopes to break some records on the football field as well. But, he has some catching up to do now that he finally has some comfortable shoes.
“[My] dream would be to play football in college, but right now I just want to improve my skills and be the best teammate and player I can be,” Kilburn Jr. said.
Kilburn Jr.’s story is bringing awareness to the issue of affordable custom footwear. A custom pair of shoes could cost more than $1,000 each. So, the family has a Facebook page called The Big Shoe Network and is building a nonprofit (website under construction for thebigshoenetwork.org) to connect others in the hunt for larger-than-average-sized shoes.