By Omari White
Last week, the Miami Heat retired Shaquille O’Neal’s #32 in the rafters at American Airlines Arena.
O’Neal played 3 ½ seasons with the Heat and led them to their first championship in franchise history beating the Dallas Mavericks in the 2006 NBA Finals.
During the Heat’s halftime ceremony last week for O’Neal, his mom, Lucille O’Neal kicked off the celebration for Shaq by driving a mini diesel truck on the court. That mini truck was a replica of the one O’Neal arrived in when he was traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Miami Heat back in 2004.
“When I was getting traded from LA, I said if I want to play anywhere I want to play in Miami,” O’Neal said after his halftime honor. “I want to thank the Heat organization. I want to thank everybody. It was great times.”
Speaking of his mom, Lucille O’Neal and the Los Angeles Lakers, she chatted with Scoop B Radio about the promise that her son made to her when he decided to obtain his college degree after entering the 1992 NBA Draft. “We had a deal, you do this now and go back to school later,” said Lucille O’Neal. Check out the interview here.
“He needed to finish his college education; however, when the opportunity presented itself for him to go into the NBA, we didn’t want him to miss an opportunity when it was presented to him.”
Shaq’s path to his undergraduate degree included online classes and correspondence with professors through both mail and email. He continued his education by earning his PH.D from Barry University with his doctoral capstone topic being The Duality of Humor and Aggression in Leadership Styles.
But Diesel didn’t stop there and turned his attention to his mother, helping her fulfill her dream of graduating from college as she had pushed him to achieve his. So in 2003, Momma O’Neal, with the help of her son, earned her BA in Business Admin from Bethune-Cookman. And like her son, she furthered her education in 2005 by earning her MA in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix.
“It took 30 years, but I never lost thirst for learning,” Lucille O’Neal told Scoop B Radio host Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson. “I promised him that I wouldn’t waste his money and he said that as long as I got good grades, he would continue to pay my tuition.”
The bond between mother and son in the O’Neal household extends beyond blood and demonstrates that education can be obtained no matter the age or life situation.