Little did I know then that in the months and years ahead, I would be the one who would receive the education of a lifetime. In fact, a lesson in "big balling and shot calling" started before Shaquille played his first game. After going most of my life barely able to make ends meet, I had a hard time believing or accepting our new financial windfall. Unfortunately, others didn't quite share my problem, and many of them spent my son's money with reckless abandon. On the other hand, I was still so plagued by worries that this dream world we'd been swept into would end abruptly somehow, that I cautioned against any large purchases Shaquille had in mind.
Shaquille has always had a good head on his shoulders for business, much like his grandfather Hilton. He was never one to throw away his money on frivolous things, but now he was a part of a different world; a brand new fraternity of sorts, where fast living and big spending were the norm. He was also now living in the national and international spotlight, with his smiling face appearing on billboards, city buses, and T-shirts. I didn't know what effect that would have on his young, eighteen-year-old mind. Yes, I was confident in the values we'd instilled in him while he was a child, but no matter how great your parenting techniques are, outside influences can be oh-so-enticing. They are never far away, waiting for the opportunity to sneak in and take over.