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It isn’t hard to look at elite professional athletes and think, “Man, they have it easy.” Sure, they get paid millions to play sports while the rest of us pay to watch them, but it’s not fair to say their lives come with their own struggles. But they often pale in comparison to what millions of others are facing.
On an episode of his podcast, The Big Podcast with Shaq, Shaquille O’Neal told the story of how his dad showed him this firsthand.
Shaq: “One day after a game I went home and I said, hey man, I couldn’t handle the pressure in New York. He was upset, takes me in the car early the next morning and we watch a homeless family. A family that he used to take care of. He said ‘I don’t ever want to hear you say you can’t handle the pressure again. You spoiled MF’in brat, you got a big house, you got cars, you fly private, I don’t want to hear that.'”
Papa O’Neal had a real point here, and he hammered home this valuable lesson with what he said next.
“‘Pressure is when you don’t know where your next meal is coming from’. After that, I stopped complaining, because I got it good and he said push through it,” Shaq remembered.
His dad then booted him out of the car and had him get the family set up with an apartment and made some calls to help get them situated long-term.
“That stuck with me,” Shaq said.
Shaq has since become a guy known for paying it forward. He even recently picked up the check for an entire Manhattan restaurant.
He has also seemingly carried some of his father’s lessons over to raising his kids. In 2021, he was quoted in an interviewing say that makes sure to instill a strong work ethic in his six kids, even telling them, “We ain’t rich, I’m rich.”