Shaquille O’Neal’s mother speaks out about becoming her son at the age of 18: “There was never enough food or clothing; we were always in need of something.”

NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal is widely regarded as one of the most dominant players in basketball history. But behind his superstar status, few know about the hardship he faced growing up in a low-income household. In a recent interview, Shaq’s mother Lucille O’Neal opened up about becoming a parent at just 18 years old.

“It was very difficult for me as a young mother. We didn’t have enough food, enough clothes, we were always lacking something,” she revealed. At the time, Lucille was unemployed and raising newborn Shaq along with his two older sisters.

Despite struggling to make ends meet, Lucille insisted that Shaq never went without food or shelter thanks to government assistance programs. “I got on welfare for a short time. I got food stamps until I was able to do better,” she said.

However, money continued to be extremely tight in the O’Neal household. Lucille often skipped meals herself just to ensure her kids were fed. She also sewed their old clothes and even made Shaq’s shoes last longer by repairing them with cardboard inserts.

Through it all, Lucille strived to keep her kids’ spirits up and to instill good values. “We didn’t have a lot, but I let them know that wasn’t where happiness came from,” she shared.

Her perseverance and sacrifice ultimately paid off as Shaq gained fortune and fame in the NBA. The basketball icon has never forgotten his mother’s unconditional love and the humble beginnings that drove him to succeed.

“I’m so proud of the man he has become,” Lucille said warmly. Despite facing teen pregnancy and poverty, she raised a son who would grow up to stand tall in basketball and life.

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