He may be a superstar athlete, but former NBA player Shaquille O’Neal is rejecting fame, or at least the culture that so often accompanies it.
In a new interview with the New York Post, O’Neal described celebrities as “crazy” and said he doesn’t believe his wealth or success makes him any better than anyone else, describing himself as a “regular person.”
“Just because I made it don’t mean I’m bigger than you,” he said. “Just cuz I have more money than you don’t mean that I’m better than you. I’ve never been that way and I never will be that way.”
O’Neal went on to say he doesn’t want to be seen as a celebrity.
“I denounce my celebrity-ness today,” he added.
Having grown up poor in Newark, New Jersey, where he said he “had nothing,” the NBA star told the Post he wants people to think of him not as wealthy, but as kind.
“I want people to say, ‘Bro, he’s nice. He didn’t have an entourage. His people didn’t take my phone because I took a picture and threw it.’”
O’Neal has used a lot of his income to help others.
Recently, he funded one of his favorite restaurants in Atlanta struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and government-induced restrictions.
And in early September, O’Neal announced a partnership with cereal maker Kellogg’s, a philanthropic venture to give middle schoolers greater access to sports, Forbes reported.
Taking place in Boston, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, and Phoenix — the six cities were O’Neal played professional basketball over the course of 19 seasons — the Mission Tiger program will impact some 60,000 kids.
“Seeing my face on a box of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, my all-time favorite cereal, is a dream come true,” he said. “[W]hat’s even better is that we’ll help kids across the country gain better access to sports. Sports teach invaluable skills that will impact these kids for the rest of their lives.”
At the time, when he was asked how he wants to be remembered, O’Neal said it’s “simple.”
“I want people to say, ‘Shaq was a nice guy.’ And I am a nice guy.”
***As the number of voices facing big-tech censorship continues to grow, please sign up for Faithwire’s daily newsletter and download the CBN News app, developed by our parent company, to stay up-to-date with the latest news from a distinctly Christian perspective.***