Most people give me a song and dance about how to pronounce my name — Lapacazo. Not NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal, not Shaq. The first time we were introduced, he extended his gigantic hand and pronounced my name, perfectly. I was the unit publicist on the film “Kazaam” and during the filming, I learned some important facts about Shaq, like he’s a regular dude. Yes, a rich, regular dude and a legend but still, a regular dude.
During our lunch breaks, the crew would invite their kids to play hoops with him and he always played with them. He even stepped in a few times to make sure that the crew treated me with the respect that a Black woman deserved. I will always love him for that. He treated me like a Queen — no gas. A class act from start to finish.
Now to TNT’s “Shaq’s Life” — nine episodes of fun with narrator Samuel L. Jackson. Do you hear his booming voice of a funky “God” sharing details on the legend’s life? It’s glorious fun!
“Shaq Life” is addictive, equivalent to trying to eat just one potato chip.
Episode 1 — ‘You Don’t Know Shaq’ begins with a bang, narrated by the aforementioned Samuel L. Jackson. The question is, who is NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal’? He’s a big man who towers (literally) over most people and his heart, his empathy, are equally as massive much like his shoe size, which is on record as being a size, 22. I once stood in his shoes, they were in the costume shop for the film “Kazaam” — it was a humbling experience.
Here’s what we learn about Shaq, he is just a man with a large heart who wants to live life to the fullest with a single regret, that there are only 24 hours in a day.
Since retiring from his legendary basketball career, he’s been keeping busy and churning money. He’s on the board of Papa John’s Pizza, and he keeps his hands in the world of music working as DJ Diesel.
Here’s the point, whatever Shaq puts his hands on, he brings his A-game, and then some. And he doesn’t choose the easy stuff, that’s not a Shaq move. He loves challenges.
As much as he appreciates his status he makes it a point to help others much less fortunate. One example — and I return to the size of his shoes (22) is helping an eighth-grade young man with a size 19 foot get shoes for his prom and beyond. He even offers to take care of the young man’s suit.
Always looking to keep a positive spin in a world that offers bleak facts, Shaq keeps moving through his challenges using humor, an important weapon (I believe) when confronted with a barrage of negative information (constant) and images. It’s also interesting to watch his work ethic in full force, meaning he is one of the hardest workers despite having achieved his status (legend) and building his financial empire (substantial).
Shaq remembers his own youth which he admits was tough. It serves him well as he finds the challenges of corporate America. An example is his role as a board member at Papa John’s, the Pizza empire, that hits a major roadblock when the founder John Schnatter, used the N-word on a conference call in May.
Shaq has made it known in the media, almost from day one, that he only represents brands that he believes in and was reluctant to take the step with Papa John’s. When it did become public that Shaq was on board, strong opinions were expressed toward him by the pubic. His answer is worth a visit to the series, alone.
Now to his DJ Diesel career, which has an interesting history through-line which began, Shaq says when he attended The TomorrowWorld EDM concert in Atlanta. Following the spell, his DJ career began. What determines if a DJ is a success or a bust? If the people don’t groove to the DJ’s tunes it’s a wrap and that’s Shaq’s biggest challenge.
I admit. Shaq drops a lot of words of wisdom in the TNT series “Shaq’s Life” so much I’m almost to the point of suggesting that young high school kids should watch and takes notes.
As an example, I offer one of Shaq’s mantras: “While you sleep, I’m practicing. When you wake up, I’m still practicing …”
And the takeaway? He takes everything he does to the heart. Giving his very best isn’t an option. It’s a fact of how he lives his life, period—end of the sentence.
The take away from the series — Shaquille O’Neal is fun, committed, generous, hard-working, and gives as much respect as he expects (and gets).
TNT’s docuseries “Shaq Life” is narrated by Samuel L. Jackson and produced by Steve Michaels, Jodi Flynn, and James Macnab of The Content Group. Michael Bloom for Bongo Pictures, Perry Rogers, Colin Smeeton, Mike Parris, and Rory Karpf serve as executive producers. Karpf is also the showrunner.