NBA great Shaquille O'Neal has received a doctoral degree in education from Miami's Barry University, the Miami Herald reported.
O'Neal, formerly of the Miami Heat, joined 1,100 other students at the 10 a.m. Commencement ceremony at the James L. Knight Center in Miami.
Fox News reported that the 7-foot, 1-inch, 325-pound ex-basketballer — wearing a custom-made gown — had to get down on one knee as Dr. David M. Kopp, the chairman of the university's Organizational Learning and Leadership program, draped a light blue hood around his neck.
O'Neal then reportedly lifted Kopp, his professor, into the air and posed for photographs before high-fiving a row of graduates on the way back to his seat.
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"We have many notable graduates among our 55,000 alumni, but I would have to say Dr. O'Neal would give new meaning to big man on campus," Fox News quoted school president Sister Linda Bevilacqua as saying.
“Kids can still call me Shaq, but adults should call me Dr. O’Neal,’’ the basketballer told the Herald by phone on Wednesday.
“I did this for two reasons. One, I wanted to continue challenging myself, see if I could do it. I was a medium-level juvenile delinquent, didn’t believe in school. But my parents instituted no pass-no play in our house, and that changed my life. Also, a lot of kids look up to me, especially my own kids, and now that I’m not playing anymore, I want them to have something to look up to me for.’’
O’Neal reportedly graduated with a 3.81 grade-point average. For his doctoral capstone project, titled "The Duality of Humor and Seriousness in Leadership Styles," he interviewed CEOs and business leaders about their use of humor in the workplace.
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