NBA Hall of Famer, Shaquille O’Neal is blessed, talented and ahead of his time!
All homage goes to the man upstairs and also to great parenting.
His late step-father, Army Sergeant Philip Harrison and his living mother, Lucille O’Neal raised him and his three other siblings: Latifah, Ayesha and Jamal.
With Mother’s Day approaching, his mother, Lucille’ O’Neal an author and motivational speaker, described her most memorable Mother’s Day gift.
She said it was a cutting board that Shaq made with the inscription that reads, ‘Lu’s Kitchen.’
“I still have that cutting board,” she told me on Scoop B Radio.
“And the reason I love it is because when we get in the kitchen together and I cook fried chicken and macaroni and cheese, that cutting board always comes to my mind. It was one of my first Mother’s Day gifts.”
Momma O’Neal was a hard-working mom when her kids were growing up. She discusses being a strong black woman and the sacrifices she made as a responsible parent:
“Biggest sacrifice was maybe not having the money to pay a bill or having money to pay a bill and used it when my children had a need for it. I made many sacrifices but those are some of the ones where I would just put them first, I always put them first. Still do sometimes. But I don’t look at it as a sacrifice, I just am happy I’m able to do it. You know when you become a mother it’s no longer me first, it’s family first.”
She even detailed her Odessa Chambliss Quality of Life Fund, a fund in honor of her mother who passed away April 2, 1996:
She had a great legacy, she loved people; a strong woman of faith and she just had, I mean tremendous love for everybody. So we put our heads together and came up with the Odessa Chambliss quality of life fund and we’re raising money for nursing scholarships out of the resources and the money that we have raised since 1996 we were able to get a building named in her honor on the campus of the great Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach.”
The next generation of O’Neal’s are entering the basketball world. Lucille O’Neal is a grandmother of fifteen grandchildren. `Her grandson, Shareef O’Neal, will be suiting up for UCLA next season.
When asked whether Shaq was as talented as Shareef was at that age, Momma O’Neal replied:
“I have to say yes.”
“I’ve watched the development and it’s something that I’ve seen before. The world is seeing it because of the way that information gets out. But I’ve seen the progress, it’s in his genes he has a special gift. And he and Shaquille, I believe will be playing different positions. Shaquille was a power player in the middle of the paint, but Shareef is a finesse player and he can also play in the paint, so he’s good and his dad was good too.”
Momma O’Neal shared something that was a shocker: she played basketball herself.
Everybody talks about how great of a hooper her son was, but apparently, she checked the rock at the center position, also. “Because I’m tall so I played the middle,” she said.
She said her game wasn’t bad. “Nice defensive game not concentrating too much on the offense, but played defense because we were only able to go half court. The game is much different for women today.”
“When I played basketball it was so quiet because we were only able to play half court. Now they have the WNBA where the women play as well as the men and they dominate the game at every position. I never played that level.”
It takes a village to raise a child and an even bigger village to help maintain an athlete’s success once they have arrived, the O’Neal family is basking in plenty of success these days.
Shaq was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016, his jersey was retired by the Miami Heat and a statue of Shaq was erected outside of Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The Staples Center Statue is a second in his honor; his first was built at his college alma mater, LSU. When asked about which recent accolades stood out the most, she paused for a minute and marveled.
“When we leave this earth we want to leave a legacy and those two statues are reminders of the legacy of Shaquille O’Neal,” she said.
She admitted to being impressed with the statue at Staples Center:
“The couple that made that statue they did a phenomenal job. It’s beautiful, it is detailed all the way down to the tattoos. And I really am I amazed at that one because it’s not the final but to end a career after so many years and have that monument it’s something special about that. The ultimate gift that every basketball player wants is to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, but to get a statue oh my it’s something. I don’t have a word for that, so out of all of that I guess it’s those two, the one at LSU, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it but it’s beautiful as well.”