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“I’ll kill you if I ever catch you using coc*ine!”: Shaquille O’Neal’s father Phillip Harrison pleaded with his step-son to never touch drugs in his professional career 

Hemanth Amar

Shaquille O'Neal talks about how former NBA player, Len Bias' death affected him and his father. A crucial life lesson followed.  

Shaquille O’Neal talks about how former NBA player, Len Bias’ death affected him and his father. A crucial life lesson followed.  

Shaquille O’Neal is a four-time NBA champion and a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Shaq was a 15-time All-Star and two-time scoring champion in the NBA.

He accomplished everything on the basketball court and was named to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team.

Shaquille O’Neal’s now-iconic moniker was given to him by Joseph Toney. But it was not he who shaped the Hall of Famer into the man he is today.

Phillip Harrison, an Army drill sergeant, was the father figure who raised Shaq. His biological father, Toney, was absent from his life. Not until O’Neal gave him a chance.

He recently discussed how his father instilled discipline in him at a young age to set him on the correct road. O’Neal also discussed how the untimely death of Boston Celtics rookie Len Bias affected him and his father.

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Shaquille O’Neal discusses the impact Len Bias’ death had on him and his father

Phillip Harrison was not O’Neal’s real father, but he was his primary father figure. Harrison was a US Army Sergeant who entered his life at a young age.

Harrison was rough on Shaq as a youngster, being physical with him when punishing him. Back in 2016, O’Neal stated that it was something he needed and that he admired Harrison.

“I respect him more for parenting another person’s child – and disciplining that child as if it were his own,” O’Neal told The Undefeated in 2016. “I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for him.”

Harrison was always cautious that Shaq did not repeat the mistakes of others. Shaq once explained the impact of Len Bias on him and his father. Len Bias was a former footballer who died at the age of 22 from a cocaine-induced heart attack.

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“Whenever another athlete made a mistake, he’d bring it to my attention,” he stated. “The hardest ass-whoopin’ I ever received was when Len Bias died.” My father entered the house as if Len Bias were my brother. He was going insane. He was weeping and clutching at me. I’ll kill you if I ever find you using coke.”

Shaq praises his father for keeping him away from drugs and bad company. O’Neal goes on to say that his father’s strictness allows him to live a good life. He expresses gratitude for his involvement in his childhood.

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