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“I Hurt This Kid Real Bad”: Afraid of His Own Height, Shaquille O’Neal Pained by His Childhood Actions

Published 03/16/2023, 2:08 PM EDT

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Shaquille O’Neal was one of the most dominant players in NBA history. A lot of players in the game’s history would reiterate the same feeling for the legendary player. Although Shaq’s unwavering determination of winning was integral to his success, his incredible size contributed a lot. While recently recalling his days as a child, Shaq mentioned how the man he became, and everything he achieved was a result of some painful childhood memories.

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The Big Aristotle was the one player that could scare off many from the opposition. However, it wasn’t always the case as Shaq had to learn how to perfect his gifts, rather than using them in poor scenarios.

Shaquille O’Neal on when he learned to use his powers for the right cause


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In an interview with Ahmad Rashad, Shaq recalled many of his previous days as a young athlete, who just wanted to be seen. The Big Aristotle was asked by Rashad how did the Lakers legend become so comfortable in his own skin to which Shaq cooly replied.

I was a class clown,” said Shaq. He further added, “First I started off as a bully, and I hurt this kid really bad, I didn’t want to get in trouble anymore. So instead of making people fear me, I wanted to make people like me. I’ve always been a humorous guy, so I became the class clown.


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However, he didn’t use the same tactics in his gameplay, as his father explained to him the value of the gifts that he’s been provided with, and how he should use it to their utmost capacity. The Big Man explained how his father encouraged him to use his gifts in the right direction. 

I probably didn’t understand the power of my size till I got to high school,” said Shaq. He further added, “because in high school I was playing with guys 4-5 inches shorter than me. That’s when my father said, ‘I don’t care if they’re 6’3 or 6’4, you’re 7’1, play like you’re 7’1

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It was a welcome change from trying to intimidate people off-court and using his size where he should, to compete at the top level. A decision that would make him one of the most intimidating opponents in NBA history. An opponent whom everyone respected as an opponent, even greatness like Kobe Bryant.


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Kobe Bryant on teammate and friend Shaq

The Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was extremely competitive and demanding. Naturally, when he appreciated someone, it was a huge compliment. Although Shaq doesn’t need any validation, the Black Mamba had some words of genuine praise when talking about his legendary teammate.

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In an interview from a while ago, Bryant mentioned how Shaq would’ve been the “greatest of all time” if he had his work ethic. Additionally, he mentioned how the Big Aristotle was a “force” he’d never seen, and impressively competitive. The fans would emotionally remember the days when two of the greatest players in the NBA played together for the Lakers.


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Written by:

Shankha Shuvra Das


One take at a time

Shankha Shuvra Das is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Economics and has extensive experience in freelance content creation, especially in the field of technology. Shankha's passion for covering the sport of basketball stems from his love for the NBA, which he has been following closely for several years now.
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Edited by:

Gideon Mathson