Shaquille O’Neal’s upbringing by a drill sergeant dad influenced the way he interacts with the police. As a result, he remains unconcerned when encountered by the cops.
“When I get stopped by the cops, I’m not worried,” the basketball Hall of Famer told Esquire. “And it has nothing to do with being Shaq. You know why? I show respect. ‘Yes, sir. No, sir.’ That’s how I was taught.
I was raised by a drill sergeant, and that’s who I am. Doesn’t matter if it’s a Black guy, white guy, whatever. I’m not going to make it uncomfortable for you because I don’t want it uncomfortable for me. There’s not going to be any talking back – none of that.”
Then, he detailed an encounter he and his 6’7 dad had with officers growing up. After Shaq said he “disrespected them,” his father gave him an earful.
“My father grabbed me by my collar, tugged me back, and said, ‘Don’t you ever disrespect these men. They’re here to protect us. You listen to them. You say, ‘Yes, sir. No, sir.’ And if he’s not right, if he’s doing stuff out of spite, just obey the letter of the law. Then you come and see me, and I’ll handle it.’ ”
Shaq said he has never behaved rudely toward cops ever since.
However, Shaq’s positive relationship with law enforcement doesn’t translate to all Black men. Many don’t benefit from becoming reserve officers or dropping by a precinct for a pick-up basketball game – both things the ex-NBA star has done.
Atlanta Black Star reported a case where a postal work was busy doing his job when New York City police officers arrested him in March. The incident occurred after the unmarked police car hit Glen Grays’s US postal truck. After the driver and Grays engaged in a heated conversation, the postman was later arrested as he delivered packages in Brooklyn, New York.
But when it comes to respectability, many Black men don’t survive. In July, Philando Castile wound up dead after a police officer shot him during a traffic stop in Minnesota. Castile – a licensed gun carrier – took the extra step to ensure his engagement with officers was positive when he took a state-mandated gun safety course last year. There, he learned how to peacefully engage with cops with a firearm in the vehicle. However, when Castile reached to give his documents to the officer after being pulled over, the 32-year-old was shot and killed.