Pop Culture

Shaquille O'Neal gives the best explanation for refusing the perks of being a celebrity

"That's what we need more of in this world."

shaquille o'neal on the basketball court
Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons

Shaquille O'Neal retired from pro basketball in 2011, but he's still one of the most famous players ever.

Fame comes with a lot of challenges, but it also comes with some pretty obvious perks. There's the money that frequently follows fame, of course, but there's also the special treatment people automatically offer you.

Some famous folks might revel in that special treatment and some might even express gratitude for it. But occasionally, you find a celebrity who refuses it altogether.

Take basketball legend Shaquille O'Neal, for instance.

Shaq has been known to share his wealth with the average Joe without any expectation, just out of the goodness of his heart. He also has a refreshingly down-to-earth attitude about his own importance compared to other people, which he shared in an interview.

Not only does Shaq give generous tips to McDonald's workers out of appreciation for their service, but he said he can't even bring himself to skip to the front of the line when he knows he could—a fact that always blows the mind of people he goes to restaurants with.

"I know I'm 'the Shaq' and I can eat free, I just can't i can't do it. Because remember, these people right here make this world go around, not me. But it's my job to entertain them, and then when they pay, that's how I get paid. So it's all a certain ecosystem that can never be broken. A lot of people break it…but you got to protect the people that make you who you are."


It's a refreshingly humble attitude from someone who could easily take advantage of his fame, and people in the comments love to see it.

"A true gentleman," wrote one person. "The more I see of him..the more I respect him.. Thank you for being a great person!!"

"Shaq is the kind of man who should be one's role model," shared another.

"'You gotta protect the people who made you who you are' that's why this man is respected by all," offered another.

"This is why Shaq is my fav! He never let the fame kill the goodness in his heart. He stayed pure," wrote another."

Some people shared their own personal encounters with Shaq as further examples that he genuinely is as he describes himself—no entourage, no perks expected or accepted, generous to the people serving him.

"I saw Shaq at a ice cream shop in a Boston suburb and he was alone and didn’t expect any special treatment and was very personable to everyone. His humility was incredible! He’s someone that kids should look up to! He’s a true gentleman!"

"I can personally vouch that Shaq is 100% correct here. I met him at a Subway in Florida. Shaq got in line waited while people was taking pictures of him and I started a conversation with him. He ordered his food and tip both workers $100 each. Very humble guy."

Humility is a quality that people who aren't in the spotlight don't always develop, much less people who are showered with attention and accolades all the time. Many people said Shaq's parents raised him right, but whether it's a result of nurture or nature or both, his attitude is one we can all take inspiration from.

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