A basketball icon, Shaquille O'Neal
*Shaquille O'Neal was born on this date in 1972. He was an African American professional basketball player.
Often referred to simply as Shaq, Shaquille Rashaun O'Neal is from Newark, New Jersey and was named by his biological father, Joseph Toney. They are from the Persian languages Farsi and Urdu. O'Neal's mother, Lucille O'Neal Harrison married U.S. Army sergeant and future FBI agent Phillip Harrison (whom O'Neal considers his father figure) shortly after Shaquille's birth. O'Neal spent some of his childhood in Germany in Wildflecken, Bavaria, where his stepfather Harrison was stationed with the U.S. Army. It was there that he first began to play basketball.
Also as a child, O'Neal fractured both of his wrists while climbing between two trees. He first gained national attention as a star at Robert G. Cole Junior-Senior High School in San Antonio, Texas. He became High School Player of the Year while there. He then attended Louisiana State University (LSU) and studied business. While on their basketball team, he was a two-time first team All-American, two-time Southeastern Conference player of the year, and the national player of the year in 1991. He holds the NCAA record for 17 shots blocked against Mississippi State University on December 3, 1990.
At the age of 13 O'Neal was already 6'6" (1.98 m), but weighed only about 223 pounds (101 kg). Over the next several years, he grew several more inches, and add 80 pounds (36 kg) of muscle. Currently, at 7 ft 1 in (2.16 m), 320 pounds (147 kg) and U.S. shoe size 22, he is also noted for his physical stature.
Shaq joined the NBA draft and was picked up by the Orlando Magic as the very first pick. In his first year he was the Rookie of the Year. He was also chosen for that year's All-Star game. In his second year with the Magic, they made it to the finals however the Houston Rockets swept them. In 1996, Shaq became a free agent and accepted an offer from the LA Lakers.
This relocation had multiple benefits for Shaq. He could now establish himself as a movie star, rapper and businessman. He succeeded in his movie career with the movie Kazaam. His other movie credits include, Blue Chips (1994), Good Burger (1997), Steel (1997), and Freddy Got Fingered (2001). As a rapper O'Neal released five rap albums; Shaq Diesel, Shaq Fu: Da Return, You Can't Stop the Reign, Respect and a greatest hits album. As a business man, Shaq owns a record label and clothing line entitled Twism.
With the Los Angeles Lakers, O'Neal was a force to be dealt with seriously. In the 2000 season, he was on the All-Star team (again) and earned the All-Star MVP. He garnered a spot on the All-Defensive Team, won the scoring title and the league MVP award. When the dust settled the Lakers with Shaq won his first of three championship rings. O'Neal now plays for the Miami Heat.
He has several nicknames, most of them he created, such as The Diesel, The Big Aristotle, M.D.E (Most Dominant Ever), Superman, and most recently after earning his MBA, Doctor Shaq. Heralded since he entered the league at 20 years of age, his 14-year career has been impressive by NBA standards for the center position.
O'Neal officially retired from basketball in 2011.