Shaq, or Shaquille O'Neal, grew up in Newark, New Jersey and credits the Boys and Girls Club of America for helping to keep him off the street. He says that going there gave him something to do, a place to throw hoops and play even when he didn't play on a team. And, it was early in his life that he started to show a very natural ability for basketball as he gained national recognition in middle school. In high school, he led his team to a 68-1 record and helped them to win the state title during his senior year. He even still holds a state record for his 1989 campaign for 791 rebounds in one season for a player in any evaluation.
When he headed off to Louisiana State University, he was already friends with Dale Brown, who was LSU's men's basketball coach at the time since his step-father was stationed in Germany and the two had met in Europe. While he was playing at LSU, he became a two-time All-American, two-time SEC player of the year, and even got the Adolph Rupp Trophy as the NCAA men's basketball player of the year in 1991. Although he abandoned college to address his NBA career, he returned to get a Bachelor of Arts in General Studies later on and was inducted into the LSU Hall of Fame.
In 1992, Shaq was drafted to the Orlando Magic as the 1st overall pick in the 1992 draft. Before he moved to Orlando, he spent a lot of time studying with Magic Johnson and during his rookie campaign, he averaged 23.4 points, 13.9 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game for the absolute season. He was appointed the 1993 Rookie of the Year and became the very first rookie to be voted as an All-Star starter since Michael Jordan in 1985. His second season with Orlando found his averages going up and even gave him his first triple-double of his career, awarding him 24 points, 28 rebounds, and 15 blocks per game. Again, he was voted to the All-Star team and made the All-NBA 3rd team. During this season, Orlando made the playoffs for the first time in their history and even though they lost in the first round, Shaq still managed to keep his record ablaze with 20.7 points and 13 rebounds during the game.
Shaquille O'Neal continued upbringing his averages during his third season with Orlando and finished second in MVP voting to David Robinson, and again was voted to the All-Star Game. Along with his friend and teammate, Penny Hardaway, the two formed an almost indefeasible couple that became one of the top duos in the NBA. Thanks to their help, the Orlando Magic won their first ever playoff series versus the Boston Celtics in the first round of the 1995 playoffs. They then went on to baffle the Chicago bulls in the semi-finals, which dealt Michael Jordan one of his very occasional playoff losses of the decade. When they reached the finals, the found face the Houston Rockets, who were the dominant defending champion, and even they did well, they were swept in the series of four games. During the 1995-1996 season, Shaq found himself injured a number times and omitted 28 games. But he still made the All-NBA 3rd team and played again in the All-Star game. Again they made it to the playoffs but unsuccessful to defeat the Chicago Bulls.
After the 95-96 season, Shaq became a free agent and was elected to the US Olympic basketball team. He helped the team win the gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Altanta and during the Olympics, it was announced that he would be playing for the LA Lakers on a 7-year contract for $ 121 million dollars. While the LA Lakers did extremely well and Shaq's averages went up again, he missed 30 games due to injuries. The next season, the Lakers went on to win the Pacific Division and headed to the NBA finals. They made it to the finals and were beaten by the Jazz. But, during the 1998-99 season, there were many staff changes that afflicted the Lakers and even though they made the playoffs, they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs. After that campaign, a fresh head coach was appointed to the Lakers and they went on to a massive success in the NBA, enticing three consecutive titles in the NBA for 2000, 2001, and 2002. Shaq was elected MVP of the NBA Finals all three times and has the highest scoring average for a center in NBA finals history that still stands today.
His exceeding efforts to be one of the very best in the NBA moved him from the Lakers to the Miami Heat in 2004. He continued gaining his averages and scoring, but also was nagged with many injuries as well. After 2008, he moved on to the Phoenix Suns and then the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2009. With injuries bothering him and causing major changes to his game, he suffered from career lows in his scoring, rebounds, and more before he was traded to the Boston Celtics in 2010.