Even the most loyal professional sports fan will acknowledge there are plenty of athletes and coaches who spark serious head-scratching with their behavior.
Michael Vick’s now infamous dogfighting ring, Plaxico Burress’ gun charges and allegations levied at Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino (yes, he’s a college coach but his compensation and stature is anything but amateur) over an affair and paying for an abortion all easily come to mind.
Against that backdrop it makes what Shaquille O’Neal did all the more noteworthy.
O’Neal is clearly in the twilight of his career. He was signed in the off-season by the Cleveland Cavaliers to team up with superstar LeBron James to push the team over the hump to an NBA title. Shaq’s efforts have nothing to do with a phenomenal amount of rebounds in a game or a backboard-smashing dunk.
O’Neal reportedly about $5,000 paid for the funeral of murdered North Carolina 5-year-old Shaniya Davis. He said he was heartbroken by the little girl’s well-publicized murder. Her body was found beside a road last week after having been allegedly sexually assaulted and asphyxiated by Mario McNeill. Both McNeill and her mother are in custody.
Shaq, of course, is not perfect. No one is. However, without any apparent connection to the family, he had no direct responsibility to even offer to pay for the funeral. And while $5,000 is likely an afterthought to most multi-millionaire athletes and celebrities, give credit to Shaq for doing what many others could have done if they so chose.