When you talk about larger-than-life sports stars, Shaquille O’Neal is right up there with the best of them. Truthfully, the only thing bigger than this basketball legend’s 7-foot-1, 325-pound stature is his personality!
Since he retired from the game of basketball, this superstar of the hardwood has transcended the world of sport and transformed into a true household name. Yet, despite his ever-growing popularity and fame, there are still a lot of things about his private life that he doesn’t reveal to the public.
You know Big Shaq for his basketball prowess and his courtside humor, but there’s a whole lot more to him than you see on TV.
Here are three things you didn’t know about the incomparable Shaquille O’Neal:
He was estranged from his father
Throughout his childhood and life as a young adult, Shaq was estranged from his biological father, Joe Toney. Once he’d finished his stint in federal prison, Toney attempted to reach out to his son, but O’Neal wasn’t having any of it. Even going as far as to leave a basketball arena via the back door in order to avoid coming into contact with him, Shaq wanted nothing to do with the man that he felt had let him down his entire life.
In 2016, however, Shaq decided to let bygones be bygones. He met his father, who was at this point nearing his 70th birthday, at a restaurant in LA, and opened up to him about his life. He told him that he didn’t hate him, and he forgave him for all the hurt he’d caused his family over the years.
He has always been incredibly tall
Shaq’s 7-foot-1 height isn’t the result of an overnight growth spurt. From a young age, he has always been incredibly tall. Unbelievably, he was already 6-foot-6 and wore size 17 shoes by the time he was 13 years old.
And his bank account is just as large as his stature. As stated at cashlady, O’Neal is the fifth richest person to have ever played the game of basketball. The boy from Newark, New Jersey, did good!
He went back to education
As stated in this NBA article detailing his plethora of different nicknames, Shaquille started calling himself ‘Big Aristotle’ in the year 2000. No, this wasn’t because he was moonlighting as a Greek philosopher during his playing career. It was because, like fellow basketball superstar Michael Jordan, he went back to education while he was still an active player. Shaq initially left college early to commit himself to professional basketball, but after promising his mother he would eventually go back to school, he returned to LSU eight years later and graduated with a bachelor’s degree. In 2005, he added an MBA from the University of Phoenix to his growing educational resume and even received an EdD degree from Barry University in 2012. There aren’t many people who can boast success on the court and in the classroom, but Big Shaq most certainly can!