Shaquille O’Neal: “My Sister Passed Away Before Kobe Bryant”

Published 11/22/2021, 6:44 AM EST


Retired powerhouse Shaquille O’Neal is a certified maverick. Both on and off the court, he has been an inspiring warrior. Yet, the past couple of years have been strenuous on everyone. Although Shaq is extremely determined and focused, it is tough to maintain the same level as mental toughness always. Recently, the 49-year-old opened up about some personal struggles he had during the past few years. Along with the passing of the great Kobe Bryant, several difficulties have stood in the path of the veteran. And he continues his battles everyday.

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There was a time last year, when O’Neal had lost his physique. He suffered some losses on the family front, and the motivation to stay positive perhaps depleted. During his playing days, Shaq was one of the fittest athletes on tour. He had the power as well as agility, and could outdo almost anyone on the court. The former center remains the benchmark for aspiring stars of the game, and averaged nearly 24 points over his twenty years. On the other hand, 2020 was not easy for him.

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Shaquille O’Neal reveals how 2020 was tough on him personally

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Just like it was for thousands of other people, last year was harsh on various fronts. Even for a mental giant like Shaq, the atrocities took a toll mentally and emotionally. This resulted in a poor stretch of physical fitness. In a recent interview with Men’s Journal, the 15-time All-star opened up about the difficulties he faced last year, starting with the untimely demise of Kobe.

Los Angeles Lakers Shaquille O’Neal, left, shares a laugh with Kobe Bryant on the bench during a pre–season game against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim Thursday, October 23, 2003. (Photo by Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

When asked about his loss of physical shape and when he realized it was serious, Shaq revealed his personal loss. “My sister passed away before Kobe,” he said. “And then Kobe passed away and then I had 28 other people pass away. [2020] was a really bad year and I didn’t want to do anything. So, when you don’t want to do anything, but you need to stay out of trouble, there’s two things you can do: eat and Netflix.”

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The year that left us was surely a huge challenge for each one of us. We can only be grateful that we made it through together, with some unfortunate circumstances along the way. As the saying goes, what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger!

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Sankalp Harikrishnan

443 articles

Sankalp Harikrishnan is an NBA and Tennis writer at EssentiallySports. He aspires to pursue Sports Journalism and has represented his institution in cricket, badminton, football and table tennis. Sankalp idolises Roger Federer and Stephen Curry, and has an inherent love for statistics.

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