Shaquille O'Neal may have been a superstar athlete, but he lives his life through simple principles imbibed in him when he was growing up. Shaq has repeatedly spoken about the role his parents had in shaping his life and how he carries those lessons with him to this day.
Shaq's mother understood that his son was on his way to being a multi-millionaire athlete, but wanted him to keep his feet on the ground. Despite his success in basketball, his mother always encouraged him to get his bachelor's degree.
After Shaq's mother told him that there are no doctors in the family, Shaq was motivated to go get a doctorate and realized the value of being called Dr. O'Neal at a PTA meeting for one of his children.
"My mother was crying 'we don't have any doctors in the family'. She knows what to say to get me going. I didn't think about it until I went to my kid's PTA meeting. A guy looked like he didn't know anything about sports and he said 'Dr. O'Neal, how are you sir?' I was like, 'I am a doctor, wow.' A lot of people are paying attention. It feels good, especially for the children. A lot of us athletes come from the same place. We have a no excuse mentality. We should know about financial literacy, we should be able to educate ourselves, we should be able to do certain things and there's no excuse."
"My mother said, 'I know you're making a lot of money, but you've got to go back and get your bachelor's.' When I go to these meetings, I'll pay attention and get my master's. There's no doctors in the family? Let me get my doctor's. I even thought about going to law school," Shaq added.
Shaq has placed importance on education and literacy for years now, as he knows how he benefitted from enlightening himself rather than letting other people make important decisions about his life and career.
The foundation his parents provided for him has been crucial in helping him become the man he is today and he imparts similar values on his children now.