Fifth Grader Dresses As James Shaw Jr., Then Gets A Surprise Visit From The Waffle House Hero Himself


December 1, 2018


Photos via: Brittany Thomas/ Facebook

For Superhero Day at his school, fifth grader Tayir Thomas decided to honor a real-life hero by the name of James Shaw Jr., who saved several lives back in April when he disarmed a man that opened fire at a Tennessee Waffle House.


“I showed him the news footage of James and said he really saved some people’s lives,” Tayir’s mother, Britt Thomas, told Yahoo Lifestyle. “He said James was brave, and he asked if he could be like him.”

After hearing of Thomas’ acknowledgement of his heroic act, Shaw made a surprise visit to Thomas’ school. The surprise was coordinated by both Thomas’ mom and his school after he dressed up as the Waffle House hero during Red Ribbon Week.


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I got the chance to surprise and meet a Young King Tayir Thomas and his classmates yesterday, told him to keep being him, and inspiring the world.

A post shared by James Shaw (@j_shaw9) on


“I didn’t want to be a fictional hero. I didn’t want to be a cartoon hero. I wanted to be somebody real that actually did something,” said Thomas. “He really didn’t have to put his life in danger to save those people, but he did. I’m thankful.”

During his visit, Shaw gave Thomas a custom shirt with the word “live” on it and his name also printed on the back. It is an exact replica of the shirt that Shaw has worn in multiple photographs published in the media.

“I’m very inspired by him, very moved by him and thankful that he wanted to dress up like me,” said Shaw. “It makes me feel like what I did was right.”


After visiting with Thomas, Shaw also visited with a few other classes at Union Stem Elementary School in Gallatin, Tennessee. He spoke with the children about the importance of being active in one’s local community to make a difference and also announced that he’s considering a run to become Nashville’s mayor or a United States senate seat.

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