Big Man. Bigger Heart. Living Legend.
I used to think Shaquille O’Neal got a bit too much credit for his big game. Was he a great athlete, or was he just born with the gift of size? I mean, at 7'1" and 325 lbs., that kind of presence tends to come in handy in basketball. I eventually came to appreciate that his game was about much more than size. The bigger force was his mindset — total commitment to achieving greatness — on and off the court. His story is about overcoming adversity, whether it be poverty, racism, or childhood without a biological father.
Let’s look at his stats, from hardwood to the inner cities:
On the Court
In his 19 seasons of play, Shaq tallied some impressive stats:
- 4 NBA championships (including 3 straight titles with Kobe)
- 3x NBA Finals MVP
- 15x NBA All-Star
- 2x Scoring Champ
- 3x NBA All-Star Game MVP
- 8x All-NBA First Team
- 8th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list
- 28,596 points scored, 13,099 rebounds, 2,732 shots blocked
The list goes on. And while many argue whether Shaq belongs on the list of the top 10 players in history, his contributions to the game certainly rank him among the best who’s ever played.
But that’s not the real story…
Off the Court
While his game on the court was larger than life, his contributions off-court make Shaquille O’Neal one of the most charitable players ever and a true Living Legend.
When he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016, his estimated net worth was $350 million. Despite his astronomical wealth, Shaq never forgot his origins and the struggle of growing up in poverty.
- Gave $1 million to the Boys and Girls Club of America to create technology centers in Clubs nationwide.
- Shaq-a-Claus, an annual Christmas charity event that was started over 20 years ago, has provided tens of thousands of toys, clothing, and meals to thousands of underprivileged youth across the US.
- In December of 2021, Shaq raised over $2 million for the Shaq Foundation, benefitting underprivileged youth across the country.
- In the summer of 2020, Icy Hot teamed with The Shaquille O’Neal Foundation to support student-athletes and launched the Get Game Ready Grant program. Twenty-three schools in thirteen states received over $320,000 in funding.
- Shaq-to-School is a program designed to provide basic school supplies to children of families with socioeconomic challenges. In 2019, the program benefited nearly 5,000 children, primarily from Title I schools, who received a backpack filled with school supplies and a new pair of shoes. Another 250,000 school supplies were donated to Communities in Schools sites across the country, with an estimated economic impact of 10 million dollars.
For more information on the work of The Shaquille O’Neal Foundation, visit shaqfoundation.org.
I’m sure there are many stories of O’Neal’s generosity that have essentially gone untold. I’ve read that, more often than not, he gives without fanfare. For him, it’s not about the publicity, but about doing the right thing.
You can’t make it through life on your own. You have to ask for help. With support, you can achieve great things. -Shaquille O’Neal
In a 2019 interview with Forbes, O’Neal was asked what was the best advice he’d ever received? He responded:
Be kind to everyone. No matter what your circumstances are, you need to be humble. Growing up, I was always told to treat everyone with kindness and respect. It’s the same advice I give my kids.
Shaquille O’Neal. Basketball great. Community legend.
About the Living Legends Project
Among the 7.75 billion+ people on Earth, there’s not another version of you. The Living Legends Project and NFT collection is about celebrating our uniquenesses and those who do extraordinary things.
The collection of 1,000 Legends includes hand-created, ultra-HD digital illustrations by designer Mark Nead, with over 170 properties to represent the uniqueness of each owner. Investment entitles owners to the authentic NFT, a high-resolution image, a physical print, their story told on the Living Legends website, select Legend stories featured in an upcoming book — Brave & Boundless, and stories promoted on social channels.
Shaquille O’Neil is Living Legend no. 352.