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SHAQUILLE O'NEAL DESCRIBES THE INFLUENCE of his father growing up: 'He made me a leader, not a follower'

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Shaquille O'Neal had one of the most remarkable NBA careers and made a name for himself as one of the most dominant players who ever played basketball. On top of that, his big personality made him an instant celebrity and one of the most famous athletes of his time. Shaq made a name for himself as very likable and straightforward, capable of saying whatever comes to his mind.

His personality and the way he carries himself are a by-product of how he was raised by his parents, predominantly from his dad, who had a tremendous influence on him growing up. In an older interview with Ernie Johnson, when Shaq was coming into the NBA, he talked about his dad's impact on him. Shaq didn't know his real dad at the time, and after his mom remarried, his life was entirely changed by a man who was a member of the US military. He taught him discipline and how to carry himself in the right way.

Every time he sees me, he smiles, gives me a hug, and says I'm proud of you because when you were younger, you listened. I think if I didn't listen to him, I wouldn't be here right now. I would be in jail or doing something else. Back in the day, I was a follower instead of a leader.

Shaquille O'Neal

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Shaq remembers that there were often times when he could have gotten in a lot of trouble hanging out with the wrong people. His dad's guidance kept him out of trouble and made him a true leader; he was on every team he played for, and later on in his business ventures.

Guys used to go around and bust windows, steal and do silly stuff like that. He told me at a young age to be a leader and not a follower.

Shaquille O'Neal

Throughout his career, Shaq was considered a gentle giant outside of the basketball arena, but he was the complete opposite in games, completely dominating his competition. That was somewhat a result of his upbringing and everything he learned from his dad that later on affected all the things he did and is doing right now in his life. Shaq became one of the most successful basketball players and, later on, even a greater businessman building success at whatever he is doing.

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