Shaquille O’Neal flexed his LSU Pell grant money as $1 dollar bills around campus

Samir Mehdi
|Published August 25, 2022

Shaquille O’Neal would hilariously use his Pell grant money that led him to LSU to flex as $1 dollar bills around the campus. 

Shaquille O’Neal was all business when he was on NBA hardwood for every single season of his illustrious 19-year career. You don’t get the amount of accolades Shaq got without being the absolute, most dominant version of yourself (although Kobe thought he could’ve worked out more) night in and night out. 

It felt as though all NBA big men who were greats were somewhat lackluster when it came to marketability and personality in general. Even the Hall-of-Fame pantheon guys like Moses Malone, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Bill Russell were never ‘box office’ draws off the court. 

Shaquille O’Neal on the other hand, was different in that way. He was the definition of what you would expect a ‘gentle giant’ to be, always having a smile on his face and being the first to crack a joke when he sees an opportunity. 

Aside from the wholesomeness, Shaq was, simply put, incredibly cool. Going into his LSU days, ‘The Big Aristotle’ had already carved out an incredibly marketable personality for himself.

Also read: $60 million worth Draymond Green, just like Shaquille O’Neal maybe a ‘flat-earther’ too

How Shaquille O’Neal used his Pell grant money. 

Shaquille O’Neal made it to a highly recognized basketball program under Dale Brown in 1989 and immediately made his impact on the court. He played his way up to be a consensus number one overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft, with the Orlando Magic being blessed with that pick. 

During his days at LSU however, Shaq made a name for himself with his eccentricity. A snippet from Jackie MacMullan’s ‘The Icons Club’ shows how O’Neal conducted himself while on campus. In episode 7 at the 6:45 mark, MacMullan claims he cashed in his Pell grant money and turned it into a wad of $1 dollar bills to flaunt around campus. 

Seems as though he took his mother, Lucille’s, advice of making people remember his name very seriously. His 3-year stint at LSU would become crucial for his development, with him learning the importance of marketing himself from a professor who turned down his ‘Shaq merchandise’ idea.

Also read: Shaquille O’Neal’s complaint about LeBron James making $250 million draws criticism from Michael Jordan’s teammate

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About the author

Samir Mehdi

Samir Mehdi

Samir Mehdi is an NBA Editor at The Sportsrush. Ever since he was 13 years old, he’s been obsessed with the game of basketball. From watching Kobe Bryant’s highlights on YouTube to now, analyzing and breaking down every single game on League Pass, Samir’s passion for the game is unwavering. He's a complete basketball junkie who not only breaks down current games but also keenly watches ones from the 60s’ and 70s’ while also reading comprehensive books on the history of the league. Samir’s life revolves around basketball and he hopes that shows in his work. Aside from work, he loves to spend time in the gym and with his friends at social gatherings.

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