"In our home we had a rule: No pass, no play," his mother, Lucille O'Neal, told Yahoo! Shine in an interview. "If you didn't pass the grade, then you weren't allowed to play the extracurricular activity." That dedication to his studies is still strong: On May 5, the four-time world champion and 15-time All Star player earned his doctorate in education from Barry University in Miami. That's earned, mind you, not honorary. According to The Miami Herald, Shaq, 40, spent the past 4 1/2 years working toward a doctoral degree in organizational learning and leadership with a specialization in human resource development, studying before and after NBA games and between segments as a sports analyst on TV.
Keep reading to hear Lucille's advise for parents.
"I was really proud to watch him receive the doctorate because I know how hard he worked," his mom says. "And what made me most proud was the promise that he made to us a long time ago, that he would continue his education in spite of his fame and the fortune. It really, really made me know that (he learned) the valuable lesson that I taught him, about education being important, and that he did continue."
She earned her own degrees — bachelor's and master's — later in life as well. "I was afraid at first, but it's never too late for a new beginning," she said. "Every time you learn something new it helps you with your self worth. You feel more important to yourself." The author of Walk Like You Have Somewhere to Go, co-founder and president of Mothers of Professional Basketball Players, Inc., a member of the board of Orlando's Ovarian Cancer Alliance, and a longtime supporter of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, O'Neal and Lorrie Wolfe, winner of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America's 2012 Most Inspirational Mom award, shared their thoughts on kids, academics, and sports with Yahoo! Shine recently.
"I would like to advise parents to stress the importance of being a student athlete, and put academics first," O'Neal told Yahoo! Shine. "I would encourage each parent to let their child know that there is life after sports, and they need to pursue their education so that they will always have a foundation to fall back on in case they don't make it to a professional level."
Wolfe, who lives in Hickory, North Carolina, is a domestic abuse survivor and a single mother of three — including two budding athletes. She's seen more than her share of tough times, and knows that a good education can really help open doors. She'll be earning her degree in criminal justice at the University of Phoenix come fall.
"At our house, I tell the kids that if you want to be able to play ball… keep maintaining a good report card, and then we can make it happen," Wolfe says. "When there's moments that the grades start slipping, then we have to put the baseball and the bats down." It's important to keep kids motivated on the field as well. O'Neal says that Shaquille "had more than one" good-luck routine, "but what I used to do before every game is I would give him some bubble gum to calm his nerves so he would keep chewing," she says. "And I would give him a kiss and tell him to have fun. That was our very special ritual."
Source: Yahoo Shine