Athlete, actor and musician Shaquille Rashaun O’Neal was born on March 6, 1972, in Newark, New Jersey. After graduating from Cole High School in San Antonio, Texas, he enrolled at Louisiana State University, and would go on to become one of the most dominant players in the NBA.
During his years at Louisiana State, Shaquille O’Neal—standing 7 feet tall and weighing 315 pounds—was named “College Player of the Year” (1991) and twice named a unanimous first team All-American (1991, 1992). He dropped out of college in 1992, after his junior year, to pursue a career in the NBA.
Following his time at Louisiana State University, O’Neal was drafted by the Orlando Magic with the first overall pick in the 1992 NBA draft. He quickly became one of the best centers in the league, winning Rookie of the Year in 1992–93 and leading his team to the 1995 NBA Finals. After four years with the Magic, O’Neal signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Lakers. They won three consecutive championships in 2000, 2001, and 2002. Amid tension between O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, O’Neal was traded to the Miami Heat in 2004, and his fourth NBA championship followed in 2006. Midway through the 2007–2008 season he was traded to the Phoenix Suns. After a season-and-a-half with the Suns, O’Neal was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2009–10 season. O’Neal played for the Boston Celtics in the 2010–11 season before retiring.
O’Neal’s individual accolades include the 1999–2000 MVP award, the 1992–93 NBA Rookie of the Year award, 15 All-Star game selections, three All-Star Game MVP awards, three Finals MVP awards, two scoring titles, 14 All-NBA team selections, and three NBA All-Defensive Team selections. He is one of only three players to win NBA MVP, All-Star game MVP and Finals MVP awards in the same year (2000); the other players are Willis Reed in 1970 and Michael Jordan in 1996 and 1998. He ranks 8th all-time in points scored, 5th in field goals, 13th in rebounds, and 7th in blocks. Largely due to his ability to dunk the basketball, O’Neal also ranks third all-time in field goal percentage (58.2%). O’Neal was elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.
Shaquille O’ Neal was picked by the team Orlando Magic during the 1992 NBA draft. Within the first week itself, his skills earned him the title ‘Player of the Week’, making him the first player to achieve this honor within a week of his debut. He played brilliantly during the season with an average of 23.4 points on 56.2% shooting, along with 13.9 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game. Later, he was also named the ‘1993 NBA Rookie of the Year’.
He played brilliantly over the ensuing years and in 1996, he was selected for the Olympics to play for the country as a part of the United States Olympic basketball team. The tournament, which was held in Atlanta, Georgia, proved to be one of the toughest and biggest challenges in his entire career. His amazing skills led his team to winning the gold medal.
Later in June 2009, he joined the Cleveland Cavaliers, and played for them in the 2009-2010 season. During this season, he also became the oldest NBA player in the history of the sport. By now, his significance as a player had also reduced considerably. On 1 June 2011, after playing for a period of nineteen years, O’Neal announced his retirement through social media. Two days later, to officially announce his retirement, he also held a press conference at his home in Orlando.
In addition to his basketball career, O’Neal has released four rap albums, with his first, Shaq Diesel, going platinum. He has appeared in numerous films and has starred in his own reality shows, Shaq’s Big Challenge and Shaq Vs.. He hosts “The Big Podcast with Shaq”.