In an interview with the New York Post last week, four-time NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal rejected his celebrity status because “celebrities are going freaking crazy and I don’t want to be one.”
“These celebrities are going freaking crazy and I don’t want to be one. I denounce my celebrity-ness today. I’m done with it,” O’Neal told the Post on Friday. “I don’t want to be in that category. Celebrities are crazy, they really are. Don’t call me that anymore. These people are out of their freaking mind with how they treat people, what they do, what they say. That’s never been me. I never want to be looked at like that.”
O’Neal said he didn’t want to be categorized as a person who is “out of their mind.” He added that he wants to be known for his kindness outside the arena and away from TV cameras.
“All my life, everyone probably gets stereotyped, but us celebrities, we get stereotyped because most of these celebrities are out of their mind. I don’t do that. I’m a regular person that listened, followed his dreams and made it,” he said.
The basketball star recently partnered with Papa John’s, where every purchase of his Shaq-a-Roni pizza will include a $1 donation to support COVID-19 relief, the fight against racial injustice, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the United Negro College Fund and community involvement.
O’Neal also teamed up with Kellogg’s Mission Tiger to help buy sports equipment in cities nationwide.
“I came from nothing,” O’Neal said. “But, just because I made it doesn’t mean I’m bigger than you, smarter than you — just because I have more money doesn’t mean I’m better than you. I’ve never been that way and I never will be that way. So I don’t want to be in that category of people.”
“When they talk about Shaq, what do you say? ‘He’s a nice guy.’ Because what else can you be? You’re either nice or you’re the A-word, and I definitely won’t be looked at as the A-word,” he continued. “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.’”
Earlier this year, O’Neal was captured on video randomly helping a young man buy an engagement ring.
“So, I was in Zale’s looking for some earrings…and I see the guy come in and he was just so shy, and he was saying, ‘Hey, how much do I owe to pay off my ring?’ And I was like, ‘My man, how much is the ring? This is something that I do every day,” O’Neal recalled during a Post Game Show on TNT.
He later added, “I’m into making people happy. So whenever I leave the house, I just try to do a good deed. But I didn’t mean for that to get out because I don’t do it for that. But the guy just came in, young kid, hardworking guy, he’s like, ‘I can come back next month and next,’ like on layaway, so I said, ‘You know what, tell your girlfriend I got it.’ At first, he didn’t want to take it, but I said, ‘Don’t worry about it, I do it all the time.’”