Skip to main content

Shaq: “I was a straight bum: Thirteen, 6'9", no confidence, couldn't play at all”

Shaquille-O'Neal

Shaquille O'Neal spent a part of his youth in Wildflecken, Germany. Shaq's father was a drill sergeant and was deployed to Europe, and the family went with him. O'Neal credits his father for a lot of his success - installing the values of discipline and hard work that helped him not only be one of the best NBA players ever but having one of the most successful post-playing careers ever.

“At that point that I was a straight bum: Thirteen, 6'9", no confidence, couldn't play at all. Thought I'd probably never be able to play, so I'll just join the Army like my father.”

Shaquille O'Neal, Esquire

Life on an Army base is structured as is, but having a drill sergeant as a father only made that more pronounced. Wake up, chores, school, chores - that's how Shaq summed up his life. Then one day, his father told him a college basketball coach was giving a speech on base and he should go listen. 

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

“So one day I go and he asks me, "How long have you been in the Army?" And I told him I'm not in the Army, I'm only 13. So from that day on he'd send me letters and send me moves on pieces of paper.”

Shaquille O'Neal, Esquire

That coach was Dale Brown from LSU. The two numbers Shaq said were enough: thirteen, 6'9''. The size alone gets you a scholarship, and Shaq had a lot more than size. Soon enough a lot of colleges knew about Shaquille O'Neal and wanted him to join their program. But, Shaq stuck with Coach Brown and LSU.

“The reason why I went to LSU is because coach Brown offered me a scholarship when I was nobody. Actually, I wanted to go to Georgetown, because I wanted to be like Patrick Ewing, but they never sent me [an offer] letter.”

Shaquille O'Neal, Esquire

O'Neal never regretted it and speaks of coach Brown as a second father. Shaq said he only two other coaches that could compare to coach Brown and those are Phil Jackson and Pat Riley. That's nice company to be in. Shaq's mark on LSU was so strong that they revealed a statue in his honor in front of their training facility. All thanks to a speech in Wildflecken, Germany. 

Willy Hernangomez says Zion Williamson is on a mission this season

Willy Hernangomez offers a frightening take on Zion Williamson ahead of this season -“He wants to destroy everybody”

Hernangomez said Williamson "wants to destroy everybody" in his return to the court after missing the entire 2021-22 season

James Harden said that his explosiveness is getting there after it was noticeably absent during his stint with the Sixers last season

James Harden and his quest to regain his explosiveness for the Philadelphia 76ers: "It's getting there"

Harden clearly wasn't himself during his first few months with the 76ers, but the good news is that he believes his explosiveness is getting back to what it used to be

Dirk Nowitzki at the 1998 Nike Hoop Summit

"Between practices I had to get tutoring in a separate room" - Dirk Nowitzki used to bring a tutor with him while traveling with Germany's junior national team

Dirk Nowitzki revealed that he had to bring a private tutor with him during his days with Germany's junior national team as he had to play and study at the same time.

Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson

"Are you willing to come back and be a coachable player?"-How Phil Jackson talked to Kobe Bryant before they reunited in 2006

The time Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson spent apart from each other made them realize that they needed each other to accomplish their goals.

Denver Nuggets mascot Rocky

Denver Nuggets mascot Rocky outearns several NBA players

Denver Nuggets mascot Rocky is closer to making a million each year than some NBA players on minimum contracts.

ben-wallace-darvin-ham-min

“I know he’s a great locker room guy!”- Ben Wallace believes Darvin Ham will do great things with the Lakers

Darvin Ham and Ben Wallace won a title together and their bond will forever remain tight.

Reggie Miller doing the choke sign

Reggie Miller on talking to New York Knicks fans: 'They love to come up and do the choke sign. They think it’s so cool'

Reggie Miller said most Knicks fans still hate him and they let him know about it by doing doing his iconic choke taunt in 1995.