Former Cole High School standout Shaquille O’Neal will go down in history as the most illustrious product of a San Antonio high school to play in the NBA.
And he’ll be remembered at his old college of LSU as well, after a 900-pound statue for O’Neal was unveiled outside the Tigers’ basketball practice facility.
The 900-pound statue — roughly about three times O’Neal’s weight during the peak of his athletic career — was paid for by $70,000 in private donations.
O’Neal seemed .
“I’m honored and humbled,” O’Neal told reporters in Baton Rouge. “There are a lot of great players that came through this university — greater than me. Pistol Pete (Maravich). Bob Pettit. Stanley Roberts, guys like that. So I’m just honored that they chose me to build a statue of. I had no idea it was that big because (LSU) Coach (Trent) Johnson sent me the email pictures and I thought it was going to be some little thing. I think it’s beautiful. It’s fabulous.”
The statue shows O’Neal in a rim-rattling dunk that was his trademark during his career, showing off his power and strength. O’Neal never led LSU past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament during his career with the Tigers, but he averaged 22 points and 14 rebounds as one of the most dominant players in college basketball history.
While at the school, O’Neal said that leaving college after his junior season was a difficult decision.
“When I had to call Coach (Dale) Brown and tell him I didn’t think I wanted to come back that was one of the hardest days of my life,” O’Neal said. “There will be no more Tiger Town, no more sports on Thursday, no more football games, no more tailgating, no more crawfish. There would be no more fun. Now I’ve got to go to work.”
Since then, O’Neal has earned a degree from LSU and now plans to return for his doctorate after his retirement from the NBA earlier this year. He’ll always be a memorable player for the Tigers.
The larger-than-life statue only guarantees it.