For about three decades, Shaquille O’Neal has been one of the biggest stars in sports. He went from being a big-time talent in college to becoming one of the best players in the NBA, and he’s now one of the top broadcasters in sports media. But Shaq wasn’t always famous, and the four-time champion with the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat recently said he’s done being a celebrity.
Shaquille O’Neal went from having ‘nothing’ to becoming an NBA superstar
Before he became a star for the LSU Tigers in college, O’Neal didn’t have a lot. According to Today, his mother, Lucille, had him when she was only 17 years old. She essentially said they “grew up together.”
“I came from nothing,” O’Neal recently said in an interview with the New York Post. “But, just because I made it doesn’t mean I’m bigger than you, smarter than you — just because I have more money doesn’t mean I’m better than you. I’ve never been that way and I never will be that way.”
As you likely know, O’Neal went from having “nothing” to becoming one of the biggest stars in the world.
He quickly developed into one of the best players in the country while at LSU. Shaq averaged 27.6 points and 14.7 rebounds in his second season with the Tigers in 1990-91 before averaging 24.1 and 14.0 in his third year. The big man’s play helped him become the No. 1 pick in the 1992 NBA Draft, and the league was where he turned into the massive celebrity he is now.
O’Neal not only had on-court success, earning 15 All-Star selections and the 1999-2000 NBA MVP, winning four championships and three Finals MVPs, and leading the league in scoring twice. But he has also become an icon off the court.
Over the years, Shaq has starred in his own movie, Kazaam, appeared in countless commercials, launched a shoe line, and in retirement, he has become one of the top broadcasters/commentators in sports media. His success has helped him earn an estimated $400 million net worth and has made him one of the most recognizable celebrities in the world. But it’s also hard to miss a 7-foot-1-inch grown man who used to bully other professional athletes for a living.
O’Neal, though, recently said he’s done with being a celebrity.
Shaq said he’s done being a celebrity
In his recent interview with the New York Post, O’Neal said he doesn’t like being stereotyped with other celebrities. So, he has essentially decided he’s done being one.
“These celebrities are going freaking crazy and I don’t want to be one. I denounce my celebrity-ness today. I’m done with it,” O’Neal said, per the New York Post.
He continued: “I don’t want to be in that category. Celebrities are crazy, they really are. Don’t call me that anymore. These people are out of their freaking mind with how they treat people, what they do, what they say. That’s never been me. I never want to be looked at like that.”
So, what does O’Neal want others to remember him for?
“I want people to say, ‘Bro, he’s nice. He didn’t have an entourage. His people didn’t take my phone because I took a picture and threw it,’” he said, per the New York Post.
Shaq, however, is doing much more than just letting people take photos of him. He has helped give back to others as well.
Shaquille O’Neal has used his earnings as an NBA legend and celebrity to help others
According to the New York Post, O’Neal has taken that money he has made as a celebrity and used it for good. Earlier in 2021, Shaq bought a stranger’s engagement ring, and he gave an Atlanta restaurant affected by COVID-19 a total of $35,000 for employee relief.
“All my life, everyone probably gets stereotyped, but us celebrities, we get stereotyped because most of these celebrities are out of their mind. I don’t do that. I’m a regular person that listened, followed his dreams and made it,” he said, per the NY Post.
So, if you ever see Shaquille O’Neal hanging out in public, don’t think of him as a celebrity. He’s just a wealthy, 7-foot-1-inch human who helps others and used to be really good at basketball. Oh, he might be on a new commercial tomorrow too.