Shaquille Rashaun O’Neal, the iconic basketball player, and four-time NBA champion was born in Newark, New Jersey, on March 6, 1972.
Although he may be remembered for his incredible stature and skills on the court, Shaq weighed a relatively unremarkable 7-pounds-13-ounces when he was born – a surprisingly humble start for a man who would become one of the most successful sportsmen of all time.
His parents, Lucille and Joe Toney named their newborn son after an Islamic phrase meaning “Little Warrior,” which would prove prophetic given his incredible achievements in basketball. As an adult, Shaq stood at 7 feet 1 inch tall and weighed anywhere from 310 to 325 pounds during his playing career – more than 40 times more than what he weighed at birth! Shaq’s incredible physical transformation since birth is even more remarkable, considering his unique genetic makeup. His father, Joseph, was African American, as were three of his maternal great-great-grandparents, but Shaq has also said that he is of Irish descent from both sides of his family tree.
The combination of these two ancestries likely played a part in creating Shaq’s extraordinary height, which made him one of the tallest players ever to play professional basketball. Despite being born prematurely with only a 6% chance of survival according to doctors’ estimates at the time, Shaq persevered and went on to have arguably one of the most remarkable careers in NBA history — something that indeed seemed unlikely when he was first welcomed into this world weighing only 7 pounds 13 ounces.