Shaquille O’Neal visits Sarasota

Sarasota County

Former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal spent the day in Sarasota.

O’Neal spoke at the Van Wezel for the Ringling College Library Association Town hall lecture series.

The basketball legend is also a businessman, an actor, a rapper, a police officer, and has a doctorate degree.

The big man said he was inspired by Magic Johnson.

“I learned it from Magic Johnson. I met him one day when I was 18 years old. And he says to me, ‘Its ok to be famous, but at some point you want to start owning things.’ I had no idea what he was talking about. And then I got introduced to the world of money and I got introduced to the world of fear and I got introduced to the world of retirement, like early retirement. Like people used to say- what are you going to do if you get hurt? And I had nothing to fall back on.”

Shaq is ranked among ‘The 100 Most Creative People in Business’ by Fast Company magazine. He’s currently an NBA analyst on TNT’s Emmy-award winning show, Inside the NBA. He was also an early investor in Google.

He wants to inspire others to always dream big.

“Growing up a medium level juvenile delinquent I was always in trouble. My father would always say learn how to be a leader instead of a follower. Figure out what you want to do in life. So I would just sit there, some days I wanted to be Dr. J. Other days I wanted to be LL Cool J, other days I wanted to be the local cop…When it came time to maximize my potential, and have something to fall back on, I just tested the waters in everything I was doing. And also, it’s a good message to children. Never give up and follow your dreams, no matter what your dreams may be. And you don’t have to have one dream, you can have two, you can have three, you can have ten.”

He said he owes everything to basketball.

“Athletics was the only way for me to get to college. I learned the fundamental principle of having something to fall back on. Because some athletes, when they’re done, like 70%, they have nothing left. I didn’t want to be one of those stats, so I really tried to educate myself, tried to learn, and got my masters, got my doctorate, its just all about learning but if it wasn’t for basketball, wasn’t for sports, I probably wouldn’t have made it to college.”

The Ringling College Library Association is dedicated to the ongoing development of the Alfred R. Goldstein Library at Ringling College of Art and Design and acts as a catalyst for the educational growth of students, faculty and the community.

James Comey will speak on February 4th.

Jimmy Wales will speak on February 18th.

Caroline Kennedy will speak on March 4th.

Ian Bremmer will speak on April 11th.

For more information, go to

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