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Shaqtastic: The Story Of Why Shaquille O'Neal Is One Of The Coolest Athletes Ever

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When you were a child, “grown-ups” would ask you this oh, so important question: what do you want to be when you grow up?

Of course, as a child, there are many things you want to do when you reach adulthood. You might want to play professional basketball or become a doctor.

That's not all, many children want to grow up and become a doctor. Some want to own a pizza shop or many shops.

Then you have those children who want to be movie stars or even rap artists.

If a child could grow up and do one of those jobs it would be a good thing. What if I told you that one man has done all of these jobs, and a lot more, you'd call me a liar, right?

Well, then you'd be wrong. One man has done it, and that man goes by the name (one of his many, many names) Shaquille O'Neal. Don't believe me? I'll prove it.

Shaquille O'Neal, also known as Shaq, was born on March 6, 1972, in Newark, New Jersey. Shaq became an “army brat” when his mother, Lucille O'Neal, married his stepfather, Phillip Harrison.

Shaq has credited his stepfather, who he calls his father, because that's what he is and was, for helping to develop his killer mindset.

This mindset was how Shaq approached the game of basketball and everything else he's done in his life.

In particular, Phillip Harrison, who was an Army drill sergeant and went by the name, “Sarge”, taught Shaq a valuable lesson with his trophies.

“He used to always take my trophies and put them in a box,” Shaq said. “Never displayed them. So finally when I got older I asked him, Why did you do that? He said, I never wanted you to be satisfied. So after he passed away several years ago, I retrieved all the trophies. I made a trophy room dedicated to him in his honor, and I am doing the same thing to my children.”

Shaq went on to explain how he uses this tactic with his kids:

“I let them show their trophies in what they win and then I say, Thank you very much because I never want them to be satisfied either.”

This valuable lesson taught to Shaq by his father wasn't the only tactic that “Sarge” used to shape him into the man he is today.

When Shaq was a teenager, he would get into trouble. “I was a major, high-level, juvenile delinquent”, Shaq said about his teen years.

There was one person who would straighten him up and that was “Sarge”. During an interview with TNT, Shaq explained how his father would “come into class and whoop” him in front of everybody.

Now, some people might consider these tactics by the “Sarge” as too aggressive or even abusive. But this isn't the case for Shaq at all.

Shaq believes this “tough love” he received from his father helped him not only become the most dominant player the NBA has ever seen, but it's also led to the way Shaq manages his money.

“The Big Diesel”, as Shaq is known as (one of his many, many, many nicknames), did all right in life, and it's all because of his father- Phillip Harrison.

Isn't that what we all want as children? A role model of a father to help push us to our goals?

R.I.P. “Sarge”.

Shaquille O'Neal or as he was sometimes known by “Manny Shaq-iaou”, played his college ball at LSU for the Tigers.

He'd go on to be drafted by the Orlando Magic as the first overall pick of the 1992 NBA Draft.

After winning the Rookie of the Year award, he'd go on and lead the Magic, alongside Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway, to the NBA finals in 1995.

Unfortunately for “Shaqovic” (yes, he went by that nickname as well), his Magic would get swept by Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets.

Shaq would sign with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1996. There, he'd team up with rookie Kobe Bryant, aka “The Black Mamba”.

Shaq and Kobe would build a dynasty by winning three straight titles while the “Big Fella” would take home three Finals MVPs.

Shaq would demand a trade in 2004 and his wish would be granted as the Lakers traded him to the Miami Heat. There, Shaq would team up with Dwyane “Flash” Wade.

In a few short seasons, Shaq and Wade would bring the city of Miami a championship. This would be the fourth and last title for Shaquille O'Neal.

Shaq finished his NBA days by playing for the Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Boston Celtics before retiring in 2011.

Now, Shaquille O'Neal is one of the coolest athletes of all time, maybe THE coolest. Is it because of his NBA days, where he became the most dominant player in league history?

Maybe.

What about all the crazy side jobs Shaq has done? It's true, “Shaq Daddy” has done numerous jobs since he retired from the NBA and while he was still playing, as a matter of fact.

Here's a list of a few of Shaq's side jobs:

- Police Officer

- Rapper

- Movie Star

- Reality TV Star

- Santa Claus

- Wrestler

- Orchestra Conductor

- Papa John's Owner

- Doctor

- TV Analyst

As you can see, “The Big Shaqtus” has been busy over the years. And yes, “The Big Shaqtus” was Shaq's nickname when he played in Phoenix.

I've already mentioned a few of Shaq's nicknames (including Shaq), like “The Big Shaqtus”, “The Big Diesel”, “Manny Shaq-iaou”, “Shaqovic”, “Big Fella”, and “Shaq Daddy”.

This might sound like many nicknames (because it is), but this isn't the end of the nickname list for Shaq. Here are some other nicknames Shaquille O'Neal has been known as:

- The Big Baryshnikov

- Wilt Chamberneezy

- L.C.L. (Last Center Left)

- Shaq Fu

- M.D.E. (Most Dominant Ever).

- The Big Aristotle

- Big Shamrock

- Superman

Now, that's a lot of names! It's fitting to end the list with “Superman” because, on the basketball court, Shaq was super among all the other players.

From Shaq's playing days when he tore down basketball goals, to winning titles, to starring in movies, to the jokes, pranks, and funny Tweets he puts out, Shaq is on another level.

These things certainly help to boost his “coolness” level. But these still are not the reasons why Shaquille O'Neal is one of the coolest athletes ever.


Shaq's Heart Is Bigger Than His Height

Shaquille O'Neal was one of the biggest men in NBA history. He also has one of the biggest hearts the game has ever seen.

There have been countless stories of Shaq going out of his way to help someone who was less fortunate, and he never brags about it.

For example, it was April 2021, and Shaq was in Zales. There he spotted a young man asking the clerk at the jewelry store counter about what he still owed for his ring and when he'd be able to pay it off.

This is when stepped in. He handed over his credit card and paid the ring off.

Shaq didn't make any big announcement about the incident, he just shook the shocked young man's hand, and he left. If it wasn't for a customer catching the incident on their cellphone, we'd never know this.

Then there's the story of Shaq buying Laker teammate, Mark Madsen a car. Madsen wasn't like most other NBA players. He didn't like to go out and party or drink, it just wasn't his style.

Shaq noticed this and quickly took Madsen under his wing. In an interview with Fair Game, Shaq had this to say about his teammate known as “Mad Dog”:

“He’s the purest guy I’ve ever met in the NBA. It was my duty to protect him.”

Shaq would pay for Madsen's down payment on a new truck. He also bought “Mad Dog” new clothes.

Shaq had his teammate rolling and dressing in style. Way to lookout, Shaq.

There are many other stories about Shaq and his generosity. There's the time he tipped a waiter $4000, just because the waiter asked.

Then there was the horrible incident of a 12-year-old boy named Isaiah Payton, who was shot and paralyzed by a stray bullet while he left a football game.

Shaq surprised the family of the boy by buying them a house. These are some amazing stories, but there's more.

Shaq once donated $35k to a struggling restaurant, he bought McDonald's for a homeless man who had no food. “The Big Aristotle” once gifted hundreds of shoes for elementary school students.

Shaquille O'Neal gifting shoes to elementary school students wasn't the first time he's been humble about shoes.

Most star athletes' shoes cost an arm and a leg just to buy them. Shaq's Reebok shoes were no different until he ran into the mother of one of his fans.

Shaq was leaving the Orlando Arena when this mother of a child, who was a huge Shaq fan, came cursing at “The Big Diesel”.

“She was crying so much, I reached in my pocket and handed her some money," Shaq said. “But she didn't want money.”

The woman slapped the money out of his hands. The woman proceeded to ask Shaq:

“When is somebody going to make some shoes affordable?”

That encounter opened Shaq's eyes. He remembered being a child and his parents not having the money for $100 shoes.

Shaq immediately ended his deal with Reebok and started his own shoe line. Now, the question was to find a distributor for these new Shaq shoes.

“Families don’t make enough to where kids can buy $100 shoes,” Shaq said. “A lot of people shop at Walmart. So I did a deal with Walmart.”

There you have it. The $100-plus Shaq shoes were gone, and new affordable shoes were here to stay.

After going through all these Shaqtastic reasons why Shaquille O'Neal is one of the coolest athletes ever, I think it's safe to say he IS the coolest.

Stay icy, Shaq.

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