Shaquille O’Neal has a short, but hefty recipe for success for high school athletes: listen, watch, learn and steal.
He spent his high school career on a U.S. army base at Cole High School in San Antonio. It was a small district, where big athletic success wasn’t expected.
But O’Neal listened to his parents, he watched and practiced good basketball — and as for the steal?
Steal everything you like about your favorite players, he said.
Take it. Practice it. Make it your own.
Tie that all together with a belief in yourself, and there can be no end to your success.
“Always believe, no matter what,” O’Neal said. “If you have those attributes, that’s a quick way to success.”
O’Neal spoke to thousands of Iowans during The Des Moines Register‘s All-Iowa Sports Awards at the Iowa Events Center Saturday evening. The second-annual event honors the athletic performances of Iowa’s top high school athletes — but also the good character they’ve shown.
In a dressing room at the Iowa Events Center in downtown Des Moines, O’Neal throws a gum wrapper across the room aiming for the trash can, betting he can make it for $20.
It lands a foot away.
But true to his enduring spirit he tries again.
And misses. He’s out $40.
For O’Neal, it was an indomitable spirit that led him to where he is today: NBA Most Valuable Player, four NBA champions, NBA Rookie of the Year, an Olympic Gold Medal.
While not every athlete will go pro, every person can accomplish their goals, O’Neal said.
Every person can have an enduring spirit.
“Make them remember your name, baby, because that’s what it’s all about.”