Jan 14, 2008

Owens Marcellus Adams, III, would like to see Shaquille O'Neil.

Adams is 11, and autistic, and the seven-foot-one basketball player is his idol. Since he rode in an ambulance to Atlanta and flew in a plane to Ohio, it seems like anything could happen, and the thing he would like to happen most is to see Shaquille O'Neil.

When his mother asked the 11-year-old Jonesboro boy what he wanted, as he lay in a bed at the burn trauma center in a Cincinnati children's' hospital, he asked for Shaq.

When Owens Marcellus Adams, III, isn't watching, his mother weeps. She doesn't want to cry in front of him, she says. She wants to be strong. But when he isn't watching, she screams and cries, and she says this is, "something like you just never felt that you would go through."

This is Lashaunda Ridley's nightmare.

On the phone from the Cincinnati Shriner's Hospital for Children, a tall beige building built in the Art Deco style, Ridley says this twice. "This is like my worst nightmare," she says. "His flesh was hanging off of him. His body was just scalded. It was like, red all over. This is my worst nightmare."

It began when Ridley, a single mother, was on her way to church on Dec. 30. Her son, nicknamed O.J., was spending the weekend with his father, Owens Marcellus Adams, II, like he does twice a month. It was about 9:45 a.m., or maybe she was late and it was 10, she says, and the older Adams called.

She remembers the phone call like this:

"Hello?" she said.

"Something happened," he said.

"Is everything OK?"

"No," he said.

"Is O.J. OK?" she asked, and when he started to explain what had happened, she thought to herself, "O.J. is dead."

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily:
Badly burned boy recovering in Ohio hospital