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The Shaqnificent

By: Will L.
California, Age 11

Shaquille OĂNeal was not just a good basketball player in college, he was a good student, too. He had the highest grades of anyone on the college basketball team. He had a 3.0 or ˘B÷ average. Considering all the practices and games Shaq had to be at, and all the homework, that is a good grade average. However, he never completed his senior year in college, much to the dismay of his parents. The reason he left college basketball to join the NBA was because so many of the opponent teams were fouling him and playing dirty, such as trying to push his legs out from under him. Shaq remembered that his dad used to say that when you are not having fun doing something, itĂs time to move on.
His dadĂs name was Philip Harrison and his momĂs name was Lucille OĂNeal. Shaq was born before his parents were married, and he later decided to keep his momĂs last name. Shaq was born March 6, 1972 in Newark, New Jersey. He had 2 sisters and one brother. Their names were LaTefah, Ayesha, and Jamal. ShaqĂs mom wanted each of her children to have a unique name. His mom chose ShaqĂs name because it means ˘little warrior÷ in Arabic.
ShaqĂs dad was a sergeant in the army. This meant that the children had to answer him with ˘yes, sir÷ and ˘no, sir÷. It also meant that the family did a lot of traveling around. This was hard on Shaq. The worst part was making friends and then having to leave them. Shaq was also teased a lot about his size. He was always quite tall for his age. He was also teased about his unusual name. When Shaq and his family had to move to Germany, he was in junior high. Shaq was already 6 feet tall and 13 years old. There was a basketball clinic in Germany, and its organizer, a coach from Louisiana State University, mistook Shaq for a soldier. He told ShaqĂs parents he would keep in touch with them because no basketball coach could forget about a 6 foot tall 13 year old!
When Shaq was in high school, he was 6 feet 8 inches tall and weighed nearly 240 pounds. In his first basketball season in Cole High School, he led the team to a 32 and 1 season. The next year the coach brought in a new assistant coach named Herb Moore. Moore was 6 foot 6 inches and was the only person able to go against Shaq. Moore taught Shaq a lot about the game, which helped Shaq in his future years. In ShaqĂs senior year his family had a difficult time picking a college for Shaq because so many wanted him. They had stayed in touch with the LSU coach, who really wanted Shaq for their team, so they chose LSU. He graduated from Cole in June 1987.
LSU had a great basketball team in the 1989-90 season. They had a great 6 foot 1 inch guard named Chris Jackson. They also had a center named Stanley Roberts, who was 7 feet tall. Of course, there was also Shaq, who was now 7 feet 1 inch tall. Shaq and Stanley had to evenly split the center position until Stanley graduated. The NBA was constantly after Shaq, but he kept turning them down until the beginning of his senior year when he realized he was not enjoying the game. So he left his business major unfinished and headed off to the NBA.
Shaq was the number one draft pick for the Orlando, Florida Magic. He was picked in 1992. He was number 33 and played the center position. Shaq received many awards and broke many records in his career with the Orlando Magic. After his first NBA season, he was named Rookie of the Year. He was also liked by everyone, and started starring in commercials.
Shaquille OĂNeal was traded to the Lakers in the summer of 1997. Shaq won many awards with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was the first unanimously picked Most Valuable Player in NBA history in 2000. He won all three MV awards in 2000.
Shaq is also very generous. On Thanksgiving he set up a dinner for 300 homeless people with good quality food, and even sat down to enjoy it with them. In Christmas, Shaq bought toys for all the poor kids. These were all high quality toys that the rich kids wanted not the small things that kids didnĂt want anymore. He won two gold medals in the Olympics for basketball in 1994 and 1996. He also starred in one of my favorite movies, ''Steel''. On and off the court, Shaq was and still is a strong, generous person; and a good role model.