Shaquille O'Neal Bio: Life and Career

Born March 6th, 1972 in Newark, New Jersey, Shaquille O'Neal spent his youth moving around the world, but wherever he was he always had a basketball in his hands. As a teen in Texas, he set high school records, before enrolling at Louisiana State University to become an even bigger star. He parlayed his NCAA success into an NBA career, and was chosen first by the Orlando Magic in the 1992 Draft. From there he played with many teams, including the LA Lakers, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers and finally the Boston Celtics, and showed off his extroverted personality wherever he went until his retirement in June 2011. In this video, WatchMojo.com learns more about the life and career of Shaquille O'Neal.
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Biography of Shaquille O’Neal


Beware the Shaq-Attaq. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be learning more about the life and career of Shaquille O’Neal.

Early Life


Shaquille Rashaun O’Neal was born March 6th, 1972 in Newark, New Jersey. O’Neal moved often in his youth, but always played basketball. Shaq set records at his Texas high school, and during his graduating year his team was state champ.

NCAA Star


His rise to fame began after high school: in 1989, the 7’1” powerhouse enrolled at Louisiana State University in business. Over three years, Shaq broke records and received numerous accolades, including NCAA men’s basketball player of the year for 1991.

First Pick in the 1992 NBA Draft


His success was so great that O’Neal left school in 1992 to enter the NBA Draft. The Orlando Magic had first pick, and with it they chose O’Neal. After being mentored by legend Magic Johnson, Shaq was named Rookie of the Year for his spectacular first season.

The Orlando Magic


Things only got better: after the Magic underwent a coaching change, O’Neal excelled even more during season number two. He averaged over 29 points-per-game, managed his first triple-double and showed off his specialty by leading the league in field goal percentage. He and new teammate Penny Hardaway led the Magic to their first playoff showing ever, but were swept by the Indiana Pacers.

Still No Championship


After topping the NBA in scoring during ’94-’95, O’Neal and the Magic made it to the Finals against defending champs, the Houston Rockets. Orlando lost in four games, and Shaq remained without a title.

Free Agency


That saga continued into the next season when the Magic were swept in the Eastern Conference Finals by Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls. Shaq then became a free agent, amid controversy about his relationship with members of the Magic organization.

The LA Lakers


O’Neal finally signed a massive seven-year, 121 million dollar contract with the LA Lakers on July 8th, 1996. Shaq then helped the U.S. bring home the gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

O’Neal and Bryant


Despite O’Neal’s talent, and the addition of Kobe Bryant, the Lakers did not meet expectations for the first years of the Shaq era.

Phil Jackson


Things changed when they recruited Coach Phil Jackson in 1999. That year, the Lakers won the first of three consecutive championships, and Shaq dominated as Finals MVP every time.

“Hack-a-Shaq”


Because of Shaq’s dominance during this period, several teams implemented a new defensive strategy labeled “Hack-A-Shaq.” Opposing players repeatedly fouled the big man to send him to the free-throw line, due to his notorious struggles in that area.

Contract Extension


2000 was his strongest season: O’Neal was named league MVP almost unanimously, and signed a three-year, 88.5 million dollar contract extension to stay with LA.

Struggles and Injuries


However, by 2002, enduring injuries caught up with him: Shaq missed the season’s first 12 games following toe surgery. The following season, the Lakers made it back to the Finals, but they were beaten that year by the Detroit Pistons.

Rivalries and Trade to Miami


After more disputes with his bosses and teammates like Kobe Bryant, O’Neal was traded to the Miami Heat on July 14th, 2004. That team ended the season with a Game 7 Eastern Conference Finals loss to the Pistons. Shaq then took a pay cut with a five-year, one hundred million dollar contract extension.

Bringin’ the Heat


He was injured again the next season, and posted career-low stats in many categories. However, he did lead the league in field goal percentage and posted his second-ever triple double in April 2006. The Heat won their first ever NBA Championship that June.

Forgettable Few Seasons


Despite another injury-riddled season for Shaq, Miami managed a playoff berth the following year, but was swept in the first round by Chicago.

Final Seasons and Retirement


After one year with the Phoenix Suns, Shaq was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2009, where he played a diminished role beside star LeBron James. As the oldest active NBA player, Shaq played his final season with the Boston Celtics and officially announced his retirement June 3rd, 2011.

Career Off the Court


Off the court, Shaq was a successful spokesman throughout his career. He even started rapping in the early 1990s, and has often appeared in movies and on TV.

Legacy


Shaq’s physical dominance and countless records made him a basketball tour-de-force. But, it was his flowery personality and penchant for sound bites that made him a star.
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