Shaquille O’Neal's charitable side came from his father, who he remembers giving food to the homeless. He said kind acts from his parents are the reason for that part of his personality.
“I’m riding around, and I see homeless people. It just breaks my heart”
Big man Shaquille O’Neal shared his food with the homeless
Known as one of the most physically dominant big men in the history of the league, “The Big Diesel” could easily be seen as aggressive. However, Shaquille O'Neal's demeanour is much the opposite.
O’Neal’s fun, expressive personality has been seen especially so now that he is a prominent TV persona. Both for sports casting and Hollywood movies, The Big Diesel has shown his funny and playful side.
The nature to this other side of Shaquille comes from his parents, as he explained. O’Neal accounts for a primary moment that helped craft his charitable nature:
“One day he got some extra money and came in the house and said, ‘Let’s go get something to eat, big man.’ So, he get six double cheese, and I get six double cheese and on the way home we see a sign: ‘Homeless guy, will work for food.’
“My dad pulls over, and I’m upset. I’m like, ‘Hey, man, why are you giving them?’ ‘Shut up.’ ‘Yes, sir.’ … He’s sitting there talking to the guy. He has a tear in his eye.”
The Big Diesel said this was one of the first times he had been taught to help others who are in need. His compassion only grew from here, especially after his father told him what to do if he ever made it big.
“He said, ‘Big man, if you ever make it someday and you can help somebody, you need to make sure you help somebody.’" O'Neal said. "That’s always stuck with me. So, every charitable thing I do I would like to get credit, but it was just things that I was taught from my mom and dad.”
The life lessons from his mother and father have grown into a reality, as O'Neal now has his own charity organization, “The Shaquille O’Neal Foundation.” Donating millions to organizations like the Boys and Girls Club of America, Free The Children, Kids Wish Network and more, O’Neal has fulfilled his father’s wishes and then some.
In 2021, 23 U.S. high schools were awarded ‘Get Game Ready’ grants, part of a program that was created to help schools financially burdened by the pandemic.
Notably vicious on the basketball court, O'Neal seems much the opposite otherwise. His caring and compassionate nature has been noted throughout his career, even when he was playing so physically.