In 1993 my son was in a hospital in Orlando recovering from a life threatening illness. He was three weeks old. That week was one of the most difficult weeks of my life and we almost lost that wonderful little boy who today is 19 years old. At the end of his stay he was moved from pediatric ICU, one afternoon I was returning from grabbing a cup of coffee and when I entered his room I could not help but notice that there was a seven foot tall black man holding my son. My son who was born a healthy weight of 7 lbs and 12 oz. looked like a premature infant in his huge hands. But what really struck me was the man’s eyes. There was so much tenderness and kindness in their depths that I have never forgotten it.
The man was Shaquille O’Neal who at that time played for the Orlando Magic. I am not a basketball fan, by any means but I have also kept my eye on this guy. What developed from that is a sense of awe. I don’t use that word lightly. I am in awe of Shaq’s personality, intelligence and his ability to keep it real. He does so much good out in the world and he does it through real connections and humor.
Shaq recently bought a home in Lake County, Fl. where I live and rumor had it that in the last election he was going to make a run against out sheriff but then decided not to. What excites me about Shaq living here is not his celebrity but his willingness to make where he lives a better place. He can do so much to encourage our youth.
Shaq may be nerd, a comedian and one of the greatest of the greats on the basketball court but to me he is a man who knows how to walk the walk and talk the talks. He is a man of integrity, honesty and all-around coolness.
BTW Shaq…. Thanks for making a not so great day a very special one 19 years ago. You have no idea what that visit meant to me. You are a giant among men.