Shaquille O’Neal is arguably one of the best things to happen in the NBA. The 7′ 1″, 325-pound giant, grew up in a low-income household situated in the ‘Projects’ of Newark, New Jersey.
Often called “Shaq’ or “The Big Aristotle”, the NBA legend was only an infant when his father was jailed on drug charges in Kentucky. When his father was eventually released from prison, he left his son’s life. And so he grew up with his mother and stepfather Phillip Harrison.
In high school, he helped his school to win the state championship. He subsequently went to LSU to study business and play basketball under head coach Dale Brown.
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Shaq was a two-time All-American, two-time SEC player of the year, and became the NCAA men’s basketball player of the year in 1991. Also, he was named the college player of the year by the AP and UPI in 1991.
By 1992, Shaq had emerged as the No 1 overall draft pick in the 1992 NBA draft class. He became the first pick by the Orlando Magic and would spend 19 years in the NBA. He was not just an ordinary NBA player, he became one of the best centers in the league.
In the year 1992-93, Shaq won Rookie of the Year and led the Magic to the 1995 NBA Finals. He moved to the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent. At Los Angeles Lakers, he helped the team to win three consecutive NBA championships in 2000, 2001, and 2002. He won his fourth NBA championship with the Miami Heat in 2006 and also played for the Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Boston Celtics before retiring in 2011.
Despite being one of the best players in NBA history, at the twilight of his professional career, he had his eyes fixed on his retirement. He often recounts a meeting that changed how he handled money.
“I met a gentleman one time and he had a piece of paper,” O’Neal told the Wall Street Journal. “He said, ‘This is $100.’ He then ripped the paper in half and then said, ‘Smart people invest this $50, and then they have $50 left. But the wealthy people take half of that $50 … [and] put that away.’ So I started doing that.”
According to him, this was after he blew $1 million within 30 minutes after signing with the Orlando Magic. He also credited his late stepfather, whom he calls “dad,” for using scare tactics to get him disciplined with money. “Even when I was making a lot of money playing basketball, I would come home and see my father,” he told CNBC in 2018.
“And [he’d] be like, ‘Yeah, but what are you doing with your money?’ “Every time an athlete would do something crazy, I would get in trouble for it. So my father did a very great job using scare tactics.”
In his 19-year-old NBA career, he accrued wealth through contracts totaling $300 million. Now Shaq earns more than he did in his playing years. He now makes $20-$25 million per year. He makes his money from endorsement deals with companies such as Icy Hot, Gold Bond, Buick, Zales, and others. Also, he is the joint owner of 155 Five Guys Burgers restaurants, 17 Auntie Annie’s Pretzels restaurants,150 car washes, 40 24-hour fitness centers, a shopping center, a movie theater, and several Las Vegas nightclubs, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
The former NBA star is reportedly worth $400 million.
One added advantage for Shaq through his NBA career and his entrepreneurial journey is his education. Despite all the fame and money he enjoyed, he ensured he pursued education to the highest level. Shaq returned to college to complete his Bachelor’s after retiring from NBA. He subsequently earned an MBA and most recently earned Ed.D.
His business degree, no doubt, helped him navigate the turbulence in the business world.