Shaquille O'Neal Says He Talks to His Sons 'All the Time' About How to Speak to the Police
By Rachel McRady
LISA O'CONNOR/AFP via Getty Images
Shaquille O'Neal is all too familiar with the talk black parents have to have with their children in regard to the police. The 48-year-old former NBA star, who is also a trained sheriff's deputy, opened up on Tuesday's Jimmy Kimmel Live about his reaction to the recent death of George Floyd and the movement across the country calling for an end to police brutality.
"There's an old saying that what's right is right, what's wrong is wrong. What happened to George Floyd was all the way wrong, absolutely wrong, uncalled for," O'Neal told Kimmel. "I've never seen that technique taught. A lot of police officers I've talked to would never do that. Everybody's upset, everybody's tired. We demand justice. They try to appease us by arresting one guy, but there's four officers out there. I think people are just sick and tired."
Floyd died at the age of 46 after a Minneapolis, Minnesota, police officer pressed his knee on Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes.
His death and the deaths of many other black Americans have led to protests in all 50 states and around the world.
O'Neal was sworn in as a sheriff's deputy in Georgia in 2016 and as an auxiliary deputy in Florida in 2019. He also went through the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Reserve Academy during his time playing for the L.A. Lakers. He noted that what he saw in the horrific video of Floyd's death goes against his training.
"When I watched the video, I was disgusted. How can you have your knee on a man's neck for more than five minutes? It just didn't make any sense. Police officers, we're not trained that, you know better," he said. "You have to know better in certain situations."
Despite his connection to the police, the father of five noted that he has talks with his sons, Shareef, 20, and Shaqir, 17, about how to behave around the police.
"I have that talk with them all the time. I tell them, first of all, you have to try to defuse the situation by showing respect," the athlete explained. "Because you have to understand that these people are also out here doing their jobs."
He added that he wants his sons to turn to him if a situation gets violent.
"If it happens to get rough, don't say anything, don't do anything, just comply. And then when all is said and done, you call me, and if stuff gets out of hand, then I will handle it," he said. "I will be the one to come around and act crazy. I don't want you to act crazy while you're out there by yourself. So I just try to tell them, just comply, just listen, but a lot of times that doesn't work either."
O'Neal acknowledged that even when black Americans comply with the police, situations can go wrong.
"I try to be real with them and to have certain conversations, but you know, from the videos I've seen with Mr. Floyd, he was complying," he said. "I have this conversation with my sons all the time. But I also tell them, just show respect."