By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Shaquille O’Neal, the larger-than-life former NBA player, and TNT announcer, has a reality check for all of the fakeness associated with stardom.
“I came from nothing. But, just because I made it doesn’t mean I’m bigger than you, smarter than you – just because I have more money doesn’t mean I’m better than you. I’ve never been that way, and I never will be that way. So, I don’t want to be in that category of people,” O’Neal declared in a New York Post interview.
Plain and simple, the 7-foot-1 and four-time NBA champion said he doesn’t want people to call him a celebrity.
“These celebrities are going freaking crazy, and I don’t want to be one. I denounce my celebrity-ness today. I’m done with it,” he insisted.
“I don’t want to be in that category. Celebrities are crazy. They really are. Don’t call me that anymore. These people are out of their freaking minds with how they treat people, what they do, what they say. That’s never been me. I never want to be looked at like that.”
Outside of basketball and his high-profile job as an analyst for TNT, O’Neal has devoted much of his time to charitable causes and being a nice guy.
Stories – which he’s confirmed – are aplenty with random acts of kindness. O’Neal paid for a stranger’s engagement ring and recently gave $35,000 to an Atlanta restaurant that didn’t receive Covid-relief funds.
O’Neal has a new Frosted Flake cereal among his many philanthropic ventures and has partnered with Mission Tiger to help more than 60,000 middle school students receive new sports equipment, uniforms, and other necessities.
“I came from nothing,” O’Neal remarked, noting his poor upbringing in Newark, New Jersey. “When they talk about Shaq, what do you say? ‘He’s a nice guy.’ Because what else can you be? You’re either nice or you’re the A-word, and I definitely won’t be looked at as the A-word,” he continued.
“I want people to say, ‘Bro, he’s nice. He didn’t have an entourage. His people didn’t take my phone because I took a picture and threw it.’”