Shaquille O'Neal Graduates From College
B A T O N R O U G E, La., Dec. 15 -- Shaquille O’Neal 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, O’Neal waited to be handed another one: a bachelor ofarts degree.
“This is a day I always waited for since 1989,” O’Neal said. “It took a while, six or seven summers, but it was worth it.”
School officials had asked O’Neal, who towered above hisclassmates in his black robe and mortar board, to sit on the stageduring this morning’s general ceremonial event. He did, but saidhe would sit with his fellow students during an afternoon ceremonywhen he will be handed his bachelor’s degree.
“He probably worked harder and longer for this than for any ofthose other awards,” said Mike Mallet, O’Neal’s 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
O’Neal is playing hooky from the Los Angeles Lakers to attendthe graduation ceremonies at LSU. He had the team’s blessing tomiss tonight’s game against the Vancouver Grizzlies so hecould join the rest of the senior class and accept his diploma.
“Here he is, almost 30, and he’s graduating from college,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “He’s persevered to do it. We wish him well in his graduation, it’s a wonderful thing to do.”
O’Neal, 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 I’d do it, I promised myself I’d do it,” O’Neal said of earning his degree. “It took eight years, it should have taken six or seven. I had some other engagements.”
Of the diploma, O’Neal said: “It puts a stamp on me as aneducated man.”
ABC News Live
24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events