DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s often impossible to ignore when a larger-than-life character walks into a room and makes his way through the crowd. That could be triple the case when Shaquille O’Neal came to support young people in the state of Texas, where he spent most of his childhood.
Shaq went to the Metroplex this week to visit St Philip’s School in Dallas. “I have kids, so I’m well versed in this area… just trying to motivate them,” he says.
St Philip’s Principal, Dr. Terry Flowers said, “A child cannot be what a child cannot see. So St Philip’s constantly strives to show greatness to our students. “
Shaq embodies greatness standing alongside the rest of the world in basketball, the business world and is a philanthropist.
As the guest of honor at St Philip’s annual awards luncheon, Shaq showed students a real-life standard of excellence that they can achieve. Jonathan Lax, a sixth grader at the school, had a list of things for Shaq. “I just wanted to tell him about myself and what I do. It’s just that I’m an A student and I also play basketball,” he said.
In turn, Shaq made it his mission to tell students about the simple things that really helped him. He gave them advice that could be considered a trio. “The first thing I tell them, and very simply, I tell them to listen to your mom and dad,” he explains. “First thing I tell them – I’m just like you. The second thing I tell them is to be a leader, not a follower, and the third thing I tell them is to always follow your dreams – no matter what. ”
There is no doubt that for most young players the afternoon provided the chance to see the biggest star they could meet. Shaq’s presence transcends sport because remember, the kids he talks to aren’t even alive for his playing career.
Former Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson, who interviewed Shaq on the show, pointed out, “Especially for underserved kids or minority kids, they need to see some examples. Living examples of what success looks like and they need to see it on court basketball, but they also need to see it in the business world. ”
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School of St. Philip currently serves children in Pre-K through 6th grade. As it stands, 100% of students graduate from high school and more than 90% of students go on to college.