Thursday, February 23, 2006

Life is more than just a game

I used to dislike Shaq because he played for a team other than mine. I have to admit I have changed my mind over the years. As far as overpaid athletes go, this guy is pretty ok. Plus you've got to admire someone who keeps his promise to his Momma! :)

This banner and story came in my email tonight because I signed up for the Good News newsletter from The Foundation for a Better Life.

Here's the story behind Shaq's billboard:


One of the most recognizable basketball players in the world, Shaquille O’Neal, was born on March 6, 1972 in Newark, New Jersey. His father was in the Army when he was growing up and the family lived in different parts of the world. He first started playing basketball at an Army base in Germany and quickly fell in love with the sport.

After a successful high school career in San Antonio, Texas, O’Neal attended Louisiana State University. The basketball star majored in business and set records on the court. He was named a first-team All-America in 1991 and 1992 and was the National Player of the Year in 1991.

Following these accolades, O’Neal made the decision to leave LSU after his junior year and turn pro. When announcing the decision, he also made a promise to his mother that he would finish his degree. In 1992, the Orlando Magic drafted O’Neal first overall. He immediately became a star in the National Basketball Association. During his career, he has won numerous awards including: nine All-Star selections; four All-NBA First Team selections; Rookie of the Year in 1992-93; and Most Valuable Player in 2000. He also has won three championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and was named MVP of the Finals each time. O’Neal also helped the USA basketball team win a gold medal in the 1996 Olympics.

Even while earning awards, O’Neal never forgot the promise he made to his mother and his school. He attended summer courses and an independent study program. His perseverance paid off as he earned his bachelor’s degree in general studies with a political science minor. On December 15, 2000, he received his diploma. O’Neal missed one of his team’s games to receive the diploma in person at LSU.

O’Neal did not stop with his bachelor’s degree. He attended the University of Phoenix and earned a master’s degree in business administration in June 2005. He has stated that when his playing days are done, he wants to be a police officer. In fact, O’Neal has worked for the Los Angeles Police Department and the Miami Beach Police Department during different off-seasons and attended the Los Angeles County Police Academy while playing for the Lakers.

Off the court, O’Neal is extremely active in charitable efforts, including donating $1 million to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America in support of their technology initiatives. He invites underprivileged children throughout the nation to various professional games, serves the homeless on Thanksgiving, brings gifts and spreads cheer to needy children in local hospitals at Christmas, and also makes frequent visits to the terminally ill through the “Make-A-Wish Foundation.” Most recently, along with his wife, Shaunie, O’Neal organized a relief effort to help victims of Hurricane Katrina by collecting essential supplies for displaced families in the Louisiana and Texas areas.

His perseverance to honor his promise to his mother and his commitment to helping others, makes Shaquille O’Neal an even bigger star off the court than he is on.

In my opinion, perseverance is one of the best traits a person can have. I'll end with one of my favorite quotes on the topic:

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”

- Christopher Reeve


Katie the Scrapbook Lady



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