Why Shaquille O’Neal refuses to call himself a ‘celebrity’

Shaquille O’Neal says he refuses to call himself a celebrity.

In an interview with People the former basketball player explained why despite earning the nickname Shaq, he would never consider himself to be on par with other people who are just as well-known as he is.

“You know why I had to denounce myself from being a celebrity about six, seven years ago? Celebrities are a**holes. They just are. I never want to be in that category,” the NBA Hall of Famer told the outlet, explaining that “a lot of these people, when they come to a certain status, it automatically gives them the right to think they’re smarter than you, they’re better than you, they’re bigger than you, and I never wanted to be like that.”

He continued, mentioning that he has never travelled with a group of people like an entourage or showed off his wealth in a flashy manner through jewellery.

“I don’t want to be that guy,” he said. “I did it one time and my mother was pissed. She used words I haven’t heard her use in a long time.”

O’Neal then explained how his mother came to his house and made him watch footage of the time she felt he acted out. “She’s like, ‘How do you think that look?’ I was like, ‘That looks stupid,’” he recalls without detailing the exact moment. “She said, ‘That’s not necessary, baby. You don’t need to do all that stuff.’”

“I have to do regular people’s stuff because I’m a regular person,” he continued. “I ain’t got no security. I ain’t got no entourage. I’m just a guy that played in the NBA.”

Part of being a “regular person” also means being honest about specific aspects of life, like when O’Neal talked about his 55-pound weight loss back in September.

The former NBA star, 51, discussed his recent weight loss, and his “crazy goals” for himself, during an interview with Entertainment Tonight at the time, where he revealed that he decided to change his lifestyle after realising he couldn’t “walk up the stairs”.

“I was getting chubby and couldn’t even walk up the stairs. I didn’t like the way I looked in the mirror,” he explained. “I was like, ‘I’m gonna lose 20’ and then I was trying to lose 20.”

According to O’Neal, who weighed 406 pounds at the start of his journey, he began by exercising, with the Los Angeles Lakers legend then changing his eating habits as well. He told the outlet that his goal is now to be “between 315 and 330 [pounds],” which he said is what he weighed when he helped lead the Miami Heat to their first NBA title in franchise history in 2006.

In addition to losing more weight, the basketball star, who is 7ft 1in, also wants to achieve an “eight pack,” although he joked that he’s halfway to his goal. “I’ve got a five-pack now so I’ve got seven more packs to go because I want to take my shirt off on Instagram,” he said.