NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal says he is rejecting the descriptor “celebrity” from now on because those people are “out of their freaking minds” and because he doesn’t want to be thought of in that way.
Though he is known as a professional basketball legend with the L.A. Lakers and has had a successful post-NBA career as a broadcaster and brand representative, O’Neal told the New York Post he’d rather be remembered for his acts of kindness.
“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 told the country’s oldest newspaper as he discussed a new deal with cereal giant Kellogg’s.
“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 mind 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,” he added.
“This is one of the best things you guys could have ever given us.”@SHAQ surprised one of his favorite Atlanta food spots “Restaurant 10” with $35K in Employee Relief Fund with @TheGeneralAuto 🙏 pic.twitter.com/ZyK6uX2zHN
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 13, 2021
O’Neal, a four-time NBA champ who used to light up the court with the late, equally great Kobe Bryant, says he has discovered another way to showcase himself in a less ostentatious, but much more gratifying, manner, which he told The Post he tries to do at least a couple of times each week.
After he retired from the league in 2011, ‘Shaq’ has developed a reputation for being a Good Samaritan: Paying for a perfect stranger’s engagement ring, for instance, and, recently, funding a favorite go-to restaurant in Atlanta hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, The Post noted.
“All my life, everyone probably gets stereotyped, but us celebrities, we get stereotyped because most of these celebrities are out of their mind. I don’t do that. I’m a regular person that listened, followed his dreams and made it,” he told the paper.
O’Neal, who is 7′ 1″ and attended LSU, was chosen first overall in the 1992 NBA draft by the Orlando Magic, and while his life from that point to the present is easier to focus on, he certainly did not start out his life the same way.
“I came from nothing,” he said, growing up poor in Newark, N.J., but later giving credit to the Boys & Girls Club of America for helping him stay out of trouble and off the mean streets of the city.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) April 7, 2021
“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,” O’Neal told The Post. “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.
“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 added.
“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,'” he added.
His most recent venture is with Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes; his Crispy Cinnamon Basketballs is being produced in a partnership with Mission Tiger, the brand’s charitable organization that focuses on providing sports gear, training, and supplies to needy middle schools. Purchases of the cereal go to support the charity’s mission.
“It’s a dream come true,” O’Neal told The Post. “Earlier this year Tony the Tiger and I teamed up to take Mission Tiger to a whole new level to help more kids, so we created this new cereal.
“And now, with this game-changing mission, we’re going to purchase new sports equipment, uniforms, pay for sports courts, refurbish playing fields and provide new training equipment,” the NBA legend noted.
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