Tag Archives: Shaquille O’Neal

Good News Friday: A woman makes 100 lunches a day for anyone who’s hungry. A little kid hockey star does a hilarious interview at a Caps game. And Shaq pays rent for a year for a paralyzed boy’s family in Atlanta

Happy Friday, my fellow air-breathers! It’s a lovely day here in NYC, a good day for traveling, which is what me and my brood are doing. Headed down to my old alma mater at the University of Delaware, for a memorial service for my mentor, Bill Fleischman, and hope to see some old friends and show my two boys where Daddy spent four glorious years.

Lots of great, heartwarming stuff on this final Friday before Halloween. I start today with a woman named Champale Anderson, a mother of six in North St. Louis, Missouri.

For the last five years, Champale has provided a lunch bag filled with sandwiches and snacks after school to any child who knocks on her door and asks.

“I’m just trying to help the kids that don’t have enough at home or just hungry after school. I been doing this out my own money and i’m just reaching out,” Anderson said on her GoFundMe page.

The donations help her purchase the items that go inside the bags. They range from peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit, cookies, juice, snacks and “a few surprises for her special babies.”

Just wonderful. Nothing earth-shattering or world-changing, except that yes, she IS changing the world a little bit, one hungry child at a time.

Since Champale’s story got publicized by her local TV station, her GoFundMe page has raised, as of this writing, more than $82,000. That’ll help feed A LOT of children.

I say it all the time: So much more good than bad in the world. So much more. Champale, you are an inspiration.

**Next up today, I have a new hero, and his name is Jackson Friedlander. He’s a little kid who played hockey during intermission of a recent Washington Capitals game, and was named the “Mite of the Night” by the broadcast team. In a truly fabulous interview, Jackson talks about his goals, his favorite Caps player, but most entertainingly, his pet tarantula at the :38 mark.

I love this kid so much.

**Finally today, I’ve long believed that Shaquille O’Neal is one of the “good guys” in sports, someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously and actually uses his fame and fortune to try to help others.

Now comes this story that he’s donated a year’s rent in a new home to an Atlanta woman whose 12-year-old son was paralyzed in August when he was shot at a football game.

According to this story, O’Neal tells WXIA-TV that Isaiah Payton’s family (that’s Isaiah, above) had been living in a one-bedroom apartment that wasn’t accessible for people with disabilities. The rehab center Isaiah was in wouldn’t release him to go home because the apartment he and his family lived in wasn’t handicapped-accessible.

Now they have a home in a good neighborhood. Shaq, in coordination with the Atlanta police department, says he’s helping furnish the home and will pay its rent for the next year.

“I reached out to the family because I wanted to see the son and I said he’s not going to release the sign until she’s able to move on the first floor. So, we found her a house. I’m going to pay her rent for the year and I’m going to give her some furniture and it’s sad because her son is paralyzed from the chest down and no mother should have to go to that,” the ex-L.A. Lakers star told WXIA.

Isaiah was shot through the spine in August after a football scrimmage between two high schools. Sixteen-year-old Damean Spear also was wounded and treated for minor injuries. Isaiah’s mother, Allison Woods, has said relearning how to care for Isaiah meant she had to leave her job, adding financial stress to her emotional turmoil.

Good job, Shaq. A horrible tragedy, but one that someone with the means to help now has.

Good News Friday: Shaq does the hora at a Jewish wedding, and it’s awesome. A World Series pitcher helps a girl on Twitter with her homework. And a baby polar bear dreaming is adorable.

And a Happy Friday to you out there in Internet-land. Thanksgiving is coming, the leaves have turned, the New York Rangers are the best team in hockey (well OK maybe not the best but I’m still pretty damn excited at their 13-4 start!), and we still have 64 more days of a sane human being President of the United States. (Check out this amazing article by the New Yorker’s David Remnick on Obama, pre and post-election thoughts.) So sure, I’m in a good mood.

We start Good News Friday with Shaquille O’Neal, who knows how to have a good time and poke fun at himself as much as any athlete I’ve ever seen. Shaq is a giant teddy bear, he’s got a great personality, and he does goofy stuff like this (My favorite Shaq quote may be the time he coached a friend’s kid’s youth hockey game and told them pregame, “Fellas, I don’t know much about hockey, but the fourth quarter is ours!”)

My latest favorite Shaq moment was this: One of Shaq’s business partners invited him to his son’s Jewish wedding last week, and of course at every Jewish wedding there’s a hora dance, and so of course Shaq joined in.

If you’re not smiling watching this, your jaw may be wired shut. Look at how happy all the tiny, white people are dancing with this mammoth human!

**Next up, the Columbus Zoo released a video of a baby polar bar sleeping and having vivid dreams and I think it’s kind of adorable. So here you go…


**Finally today, I thought this was kind of cool. Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer, who a few weeks after injuring his finger while cleaning his drone (who among us hasn’t done that once or twice?) pitched in the World Series, was on Twitter recently and got a Tweet from a girl needing help with her math homework.

Bauer was eager to help, even with the girl, Maddie Martin, having to get back to him about the specifics of the question.

Bauer takes Maddie, a big Indians fan, through her problem, and then even says he’s “glad he could help.!” when she says she now understands.

This is great. But I’m damn envious. Where the hell was Don Mattingly in 1989 when I couldn’t understand Mr. Gallo’s algebra homework??? Where was my hero then, huh???


I survive my 10K quite well, with all muscles intact. The Jets lose a heartbreaker but I am OK with it. And Shaq sings Prince

My moment of triumph arrived at around 10:45 a.m. Saturday, and I didn’t want to blow it.
For the past hour and 15 minutes, I had alternately sprinted, jogged, and for a brief minute, walked during the Run for the Warriors 10k in Lindenhurst, on Long Island.
My first 10k ever was a whole lot of fun. The course, through the town of Lindenhurst, was pretty except for the part where we ran on Sunrise Highway, a major road that was closed for us but still felt a little weird to be running on.

My first two miles were pretty fast by my standards, I slowed down a bit around mile three (halfway through), paired up with a nice woman named Mary who paced me through the 4 1/2 mile mark, then I got a burst of speed and caught up with a guy named Rob, and he and I ran to the finish.
My goals for this race were simple: I wanted to finish. I wanted to come in under 1 hour, 20 minutes. And I didn’t want to finish last.

I’m happy to say I didn’t, which is why I look so happy in the above photo. Fifteen people finished behind me (OK, out of 322, and two people in their 70’s kicked my butt, but still…), as I clocked in at 1:18.22.

My family was there to greet me at the finish line, which was awesome. I actually didn’t feel too sore Sunday, which made me feel good since my training clearly has made me stronger.

But most importantly, thanks to the generosity of readers, friends and family, I raised $725 for the Hope for the Warriors charity, an excellent cause.
My next goal? A much faster 10k in the early spring, and then, hopefully a half-marathon next fall.
Now that I’ve caught this running bug, I gotta keep going.

**I had a strange feeling after watching yet another Jets-Patriots classic Sunday, when my boys came from 10 points down in the second half to take the lead, only to blow that and lose in overtime, 29-26.
I was mad, and disappointed, but also, strangely… encouraged. Maybe it’s because I’ve so dramatically lowered my expectations for this team this year, or because I’m overestimating the Pats, but I thought there were lots to be pleased about with how the Jets played.
So despite being angry at more asinine playcalling (3rd and goal from the 1 in the third quarter, you’ve been running it down their throats, and you don’t use Tebow but call a slant pass?), and at Stephen Hill’s big drop, and Sanchez again failing to secure the ball on the game-changing fumble, I also saw…

–Sanchez play beautifully in the second half. Man, where is that guy most of the time? A couple of those drives in the second half, especially when he zipped the TD in to Dustin Keller, were just fabulous displays of passing. I still want to start over with a fresh QB next year, but man, he’s got some talent.
— Glad to see they finally, finally used Joe McKnight in the running game a little bit. I just hope he’s not too banged up because we need him next week, too.
— The defense really stepped up, tackling well and harassing Brady at times. Again, maybe the Pats aren’t that good (and they sure seemed out of sync in the 2nd half on offense), but the Jets D played a terrific game.

A couple other quick-hit NFL thoughts on another wild Sunday:
 Robert Griffin III. Man, if he could cut down on those turnovers,  he’d be just about perfect. What an incredible athlete. He’s moving the position of QB forward, he really is.
— Then again, the Redskins did lose. Eli Manning is uncanny; he made an awful throw for a pick, then five minutes later with his team down, he throws a beautiful pass to Victor Cruz on a bomb for a TD.
— The Tampa-New Orleans game was one of the bar’s TV’s where I was at (there are apparently three huge Bucs fans in New York City and all sat next to me) and it was a hell of a game. Drew Brees is pretty damn good. Those hold throwback Bucs creamsicle jerseys, though? Burn ’em all.
— Finally, there are only three teams in the AFC with winning records. Am I nuts to think the Jets could make the playoffs at 8-8?

**As a karaoke singer and mangler of great songs myself, I have to sometimes acknowledge the “greatness” of other bad singers. So this made me laugh: The great Shaquille O’Neal, singing the Prince classic, “When Doves Cry.”

Say this about Shaq: Man’s not ashamed to make a fool of himself in public.

My main man Shaq


A note on tonight’s post:

So I was pretty overwhelmed with emotion earlier; I got a letter back from my 10th grade English teacher, Mr. Gehrhardt, after I’d written him six months ago and wondered if I’d ever hear back from him. He inspired me to do what I do. I want to blog about him but feel I’m too exhausted to tell the story properly. Tomorrow night, me and Mr. G.

Tonight?  Shaq.

I love Shaquille O’Neal. Really. I find him endlessly entertaining, and I’m not 100 percent sure why.

But I have a good idea. The guy just seems to have fun in everything he does. He doesn’t seem to take life too seriously, or anybody else too seriously. He has a perpetual grin on his face, he loves children, and he goes through life, mostly, trying to make sure everyone has a good time.

People say he’s incredibly cocky, but I think it’s mostly for show. I think he’s got a lot of Muhammad Ali in him, bragging so much about himself with his tongue firmly in cheek, all to get a rise out of people.

Here’s the thing, though: I don’t really love watching Shaq play basketball. I’m bored with that. I like watching him do stuff on TV.

I actually watched several episodes last year of Shaq’s Big Challenge, which was a show about Shaquille trying to help overweight kids lose weight, by inspiring and working with them.

And I’ll admit that I tuned into ABC last night for the debut of “Shaq Vs.”

It’s a show where Shaq challenges some of the best athletes in all of sport in their respective fields (OK, so it’s not “Masterpiece Theatre.” Sue me.)

Shaq will swim against Michael Phelps. He’ll try to out-homer Albert Pujols. Last night he played quarterback against Ben Roethlisberger.

I was fairly riveted last night, only because of Shaq. The show is mostly terrible; the “announcers” for the challenge make me want to stick knives in my eyeballs, and there was more “padding” in that one hour of TV than in a hundred Sumo wrestling suits.

But Shaq was funny. He teased Ben, he harassed him, and he showed off some impressive athletic ability.

I don’t know, the guy just seems to get it: He was blessed with some incredible genetic gifts and tremendous ability, and he uses his privileged place in life for good.

So many athletes take themselves so seriously. Shaq seems to get that it’s all a big game. He’s the biggest real life cartoon character we’ve had in sports since, well, since Babe Ruth.

He says goofy stuff and makes crazy threats and says he wants to be sheriff one day.

And I love him for it.

As usual, the great Rick Reilly can sum up Shaq better than I could. Check out this terrific column on Shaq from SI in 2000.