State News

Touched by girl's death, Shaq offers to pay for funeral

Posted November 26, 2009 8:39 a.m. EST
Updated November 27, 2009 1:12 p.m. EST

— Basketball star Shaquille O'Neal offered to pay for the funeral of Shaniya Davis after seeing news of the 5-year-old's kidnapping and slaying, funeral director Corey R. Breece Sr., of Rogers and Breece Funeral Home, said.

In a statement to CNN, O'Neal said, "What happened to her was tragic. I wanted her to have a funeral that would be as beautiful as she was."

O'Neal's spokesperson told the network that he saw the story on Nancy Grace.

Breece said Thursday that the bill had not been paid, but that O'Neal's representatives had expressed interest in helping with the costs.

More than 2,000 people attended her funeral Sunday. The girl's body was found Nov. 16 beside a rural road.

Her mother, Antionette Davis, who had reported the child missing six days earlier, is charged with human trafficking and child abuse involving prostitution. Mario McNeill is charged with murder, rape and kidnapping in the case.

"I was sitting at home watching it on the news and the story brought a tear to my eye," O'Neal told The Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper.