Shaquille O'Neal Graduates From College

ByABC News
December 15, 2000, 10:28 AM

B A T O N  R O U G E, La., Dec. 15 -- Shaquille ONeal picked up a lot ofawards in his years at LSU All American, National Player of theYear, World Amateur Athlete of the Year, Southeastern ConferenceAthlete of the Year.

Today, ONeal waited to be handed another one: a bachelor ofarts degree.

This is a day I always waited for since 1989, ONeal said. It took a while, six or seven summers, but it was worth it.

School officials had asked ONeal, who towered above hisclassmates in his black robe and mortar board, to sit on the stageduring this mornings general ceremonial event. He did, but saidhe would sit with his fellow students during an afternoon ceremonywhen he will be handed his bachelors degree.

He probably worked harder and longer for this than for any ofthose other awards, said Mike Mallet, ONeals academic adviser at LSU. You can imagine what he had to do to complete all the requirements while playing in the NBA.

Keeping His Promise

ONeal is playing hooky from the Los Angeles Lakers to attendthe graduation ceremonies at LSU. He had the teams blessing tomiss tonights game against the Vancouver Grizzlies so hecould join the rest of the senior class and accept his diploma.

Here he is, almost 30, and hes graduating from college, Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. Hes persevered to do it. We wish him well in his graduation, its a wonderful thing to do.

ONeal, 28, left LSU in 1992 after three years to turn pro. Whenhe walked out of school he promised both his parents and hiscollege coach, Dale Brown, that he would get his degree.

I promised my parents Id do it, I promised myself Id do it, ONeal said of earning his degree. It took eight years, it should have taken six or seven. I had some other engagements.

Of the diploma, ONeal said: It puts a stamp on me as aneducated man.