Shaquille O’neal made an appearance in New Iberia for a very worthy cause. The former NBA superstar was the guest of honor Wednesday night, at a fundraiser benefiting the Boys and Girls Club of Acadiana.
Shaq says he considers Louisiana home, and is passionate about supporting Acadiana youth.
Micah Nicolas, Unit Director of New Iberia Boys and Girls Club, says Shaq is not only a basketball legend, but a source of inspiration for boys and girls alike.
“We have to show our kids what success looks like, and so Shaquille O’Neall, former club kid, and one of the best NBA players in NBA history, our kids are so excited to be here to see that greatness,” says Nicolas. “I think it’s essential to the growth of the community, to have a program like the Boys and Girls Club.”
Shaquille donated $5,000 to the program. A joking O’Neal says spending his time supporting the Boys and Girls Club of Acadiana is one of the best things he can do with his spare time.
“I live here in Louisiana. So, a friend of mine asked me to come say high to come kids, shoot some baskets take some pictures. I’m not doing anything else i don’t have a real job,” says O’Neal.
Shaq also says he feels that with out the Boys and Girls Club, his life may have taken a different path.
“Well [the Boys and Girls Club] also saved my life. It was the same cop who said, ‘I don’t want you hanging on the street with these guys. Go across the street to the Boys and Girls Club.’ So, you know, a lot of factors made me who I am today. Whenever I can do something for the boys and girls club in any city, any state, I’m always there.”
O’Neal went on the say that he takes his job as a mentor and role model very seriously.
“I take that job responsibly. I try to do the right thing, say the right thing. But I also try to tell kids don’t be like me, be better than me.”
Shaquile O’Neal was also in New Iberia endorsing New Iberia Sheriff Candidate Tommy Romero. Also on the ballot this year is, former Iberia Parish jail warden Jury Boudreaux, former deputy, Joe Leblanc, Jeanerette Police Chief, Fernest Martin, retired state trooper, Murphy Meyers and oilfield service company manager, Clinton Sweeney.