LOWNDES CO., GA (WALB) - It was business as usual at Z Tire in Lowndes County Friday morning...a far cry from Thursday when retired NBA superstar Shaquille O'Neal came in as a customer.
"He actually called before he came and I heard the voice on the phone," said Z Tire employee Edward Burgman. "I said, 'that sound like Shaq.' I thought nothin' about it, then when he came up on the roll back and got out the truck my heart dropped."
Shaq was heading home from Atlanta when his tire blew out along I-75 in Lowndes County, and Z Tire was the only place nearby that had the 26 in. tire in stock that he needed.
"That's not one we sell every day, but it's a high end tire that when somebody like Shaquille O'Neal breaks down on I-75 and they need the tire we've got it," explained Z Tire owner Mark Zirkle.
Burgman replaced the blown out tire on Shaq's truck and he said it gives him a sense of pride. "For [Shaq] to be here, when he could've went anywhere else or called anybody else or had his truck towed anywhere else, he came here. Made me feel good, man," said Burgman.
Shaq even had Zirkle drive him to the bank so he could get some cash to tip Burgman. A $200 tip to be exact.
Shaq also had Zirkle take him through the drive thru at a local McDonald's to get something to eat, and to top it all off Shaq even took time to offer some advice to Zirkle's teenage son.
"He said, 'son, you listen to your dad because your dad's tryin' to teach you the right things to do,'" Zirkle recalled.
Both Burgman and Zirkle said the thing they'll remember most is how nice Shaq was and how much he cares about kids.