Nineteen years in the NBA. Four championship rings. One Olympic gold medal. Shaquille O’Neal achieved superstardom during a historic basketball career, but has always been committed to giving back, especially in his hometown of Newark, New Jersey. In this conversation with Goldman Sachs President and Chief Operating Officer Gary Cohn, O’Neal reveals his greatest motivation, what inspired his passion for public service and his most star-struck moment.
On fighting through adversity: “I’m most proud that I made it. I worked hard, persevered and I learned to use criticism as motivation. Whenever someone told me I couldn’t do it, I worked harder.”
On his motivation to give back: “A lot of my philanthropy work is because of my parents…and what I was taught as a youngster. I don’t want to be a statistic, so I’ve just had to find ways to always do the right thing – partner up with the right people and have fun. The Shaq brand is about having fun and making people laugh.”
Favorite nickname? “The Big Aristotle.”