Shaquille O'Neal's Recalls Why He Didn't Enter The NBA Sooner — "Momma said, 'You're Not Ready, Baby'"
Photo Credit: Raymond Hall

Shaquille O'Neal's Recalls Why He Didn't Enter The NBA Sooner — "Momma said, 'You're Not Ready, Baby'"

Shaquille O’Neal could have been making millions of dollars after his sophomore year in college, but his parents halted his decision for good reason.

Wanted Parents Blessing Before Entering League

Essentially Sports reports Shaq was lighting up the court during his sophomore days at Louisiana State University (LSU). So, he wanted to try his luck in the professional league, but not before getting the blessing from his parents.

The pushback: His mother, Lucille O’Neal, wasn’t opposed to the decision. However, it was clear O’Neal would be making a hefty bag when he transitioned to the NBA.

Lucille felt her son still needed more time as he was still working to earn his degree. She also wanted her son to learn better financial habits.

The ultimatum: Lucille even had a deal breaker, which was learning how to balance a checkbook. Shaq was unable to meet his mother’s wishes, ultimately leading his mother to believe he wasn’t quite ready for the league.

“Momma said, ‘You’re not ready, baby. This conversation is over,’” Shaq detailed in his docuseries, according to Essentially Sports.

His father, Phillip Harrison, seemed to be in agreement adding, “We’ve been broke for 17 years of your life, we can be broke for 18.”

Shaq Would Eventually Head To The League In 1992

Shaq honored his parents’ wishes and stayed on the course for another year.

Ultimately, during his junior year, Shaq knew his time at LSU was over and he desired to play at a higher level. This time around, he wasn’t looking for approval. So, he withdrew from LSU to join the NBA draft, where he was picked to join the Orlando Magic roster in 1992.

Shaq's First Order Of Business

O’Neal certainly learned a thing or two from the ultimatum. When he entered the league, one of his first orders of business was to turn his name into a brand. He also used his gleaming NBA salary to put his parents on salary.

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