Basketball star Shaquille O'Neal paid for the funeral of a 5-year-old North Carolina girl because he was moved by the tragic story of her kidnapping and murder.

"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.

The Cleveland Cavaliers player got in touch with the family to see what he could do to help, a spokeswoman for O'Neal said Thursday.

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

Her mother, Antoinette 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. The link between them remains unclear.

Corey Breece, of Rogers and Breece Funeral Home, which handled the service, declined to tell the Fayetteville Observer newspaper how much it cost but added that a child's funeral "averages around $4,500."

A man who answered the phone at the funeral home Thursday told the AP that only the owner could comment and he was away.

Shaniya Davis' father, Bradley Lockhart, and his family had set up a trust fund in memory of Shaniya to help raise money to pay for the funeral. Lockhart was not available to talk Thursday, said a man who answered the phone at his home.

Shaniya had been sexually assaulted and asphyxiated Nov. 10, the day her mother reported her missing from the trailer park where she was staying, according to a search warrant.

The warrant says McNeill picked the girl up in front of her home and drove her more than 30 miles to a hotel in Sanford, where she was last seen alive. Surveillance video captured McNeill carrying the girl into the building.

O'Neal is recovering from a shoulder injury that has sidelined him for six straight games since getting hurt Nov. 12 against Miami.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.