Shaquille O'Neal is one of those unique individuals most people really like because he comes off as an honest and caring individual despite his massive and sometimes frightening stature. Shaq always understood that helping people and seeing everyone as equal was the right and natural way to exist and live a peaceful life in this world.
His parents raised him right
The majority of people know Shaq as a dominant basketball player, an entrepreneur, NBA analyst, former movie and rap star, but for the most part, as an outgoing and funny guy. Shaq is the type of person that attracts others around him, and the main reason for that is his genuine interest in people that are different than him. Racism is unfortunately still present in today's society, less than before but still to the extent we should never let our guards down. For Shaq racism, and division of people based on their skin color, religion or ethnicity was never an option because of his parents, who taught him the right way.
In his book Shaq Talks Backs, he details why him living in a multi-religious household with understanding parents helped him only see the good in people and discount the race discussion out of the picture.
"One thing you have to understand about me, I'm not on that black-and-white kick. Even though I'm a hard-core brother in some ways, I'm not on that racist bandwagon. Never been. Never will be. My mother and father taught me to respect people as people. My father is Muslim. You could say he's down with Malcolm X. But just the same way Malcolm X found out that Muslims are other colors when he made a pilgrimage to Mecca, my father understands that people are people."
Color does not matter to me
His stepdad was a significant influence on Shaq early on in his life, and as someone who was in the army, he nurtured discipline and structure, but above all, respect for your fellow man. Shaq learned about other religions, cultures, and countries early on, which helped him accept people who didn't necessarily look like him or have the same background story.
"He taught me that, growing up around different nationalities and cultures on army bases. To this day, I'm not one of those brothers who surrounds himself with only friends from the' hood—because I think those are the only people that understand where I came from."
Shaq loves to have a diverse group of friends, and even today, some of his best friends are not even black but people from different walks of life and ethnicities. He kept a lot of his old friends really close, and some of them even still work for him personally.
"My personal chef, who also happens to be my good friend, is white. One of my personal assistants and closest friends from high school is half-Thai, half-Italian. In short, color does not matter to me. You are who you are."
Shaq's way of thinking about these issues can be used as a great message and an example of what type of thinking is beneficial and can change this world for the better. Throughout the years, Shaq built a business empire that is as equally as impressive as his HOF career. He wouldn't be able to do it with a closed mindset and inability to respect people by the content of their character and not their skin color, religion, or ethnic background.