Shaquille O’Neal Honors His Dad’s Dying Wish

You can bet that looking back, Hall of Fame basketball behemoth Shaquille O’Neal has many friends, coaches, and teammates to thank for his massive success. Yet, there’s none bigger than Phillip Harrison, who married his mother Lucille O’Neal when Shaq was just two. 

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a ball with "NBA" on it sitting on a basketball court
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Speaking with TNT, O’Neal recalls his drill sergeant dad using a stern hand to keep him out of trouble. “My father used to come to class and whoop me in front of everybody. Yeah. Long time ago. But, I was a major, high-level juvenile delinquent that could’ve definitely been in trouble all the time.”

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With a little introspection, O’Neal was thankful for it, adding, “that’s why he knew that all the tactics he used on me would definitely work. And it did work.”

However, it would take one tragic event to show just how strong and magical his father’s impact actually was.

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Shaq was rocked by tragedy when his father passed away. With it, his father’s impact on his discipline, success, and values — as a player and as a person — truly hit home. It was a jarring blow even for the man nicknamed ‘Superman.’

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Yet O’Neal would have a chance to thank his father, even though he wouldn’t be around to see it. Shaq explained that before passing, Harrison asked him to make a promise to take care of his family. 

My father taught me not to really cry and be sad, so when he passed away I really let it go, because I didn’t get to tell him thank you enough.

Shaquille O’Neal

As he’s done so many times on the court, O’Neal stepped up, using that as motivation to honor his memory in an unforgettable fashion.

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From that moment forward, the O’Neal family franchise was in good hands.

So now that the don is gone, second in charge, which is me, I protect them and provide for my family. My brother’s and sister’s family. My mother’s family. It’s what you got to do.

Shaquille O’Neal

Above all, Shaq’s biggest gift to them is the same love and support he showers his six children.

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Strict as he was, it’s clear that Shaq’s father left a legacy that will live on. It proves that the most priceless thing you can leave your children are values that enrich others. That’s the kind of highlight reel we should all strive for.

There’s no doubt that Shaq has made his father proud.

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