It’s Dr. Shaquille O’Neal Now; Other Pro Athletes With Advanced Degrees

Dr. Shaquille O’Neal, the Big Aristotle, is now the “Big Educator.”

The Los Angeles Lakers legend and four-time NBA champion now has the ultimate title in the field of education. He received his doctoral degree in Education from Barry University alongside another 1,100 students during multiple commencement ceremonies at the James L. Knight Center.

While archival and former teammate has one more NBA title than him (Kobe Bryant), The Big Diesel can now brag that he has something that his hated teammate probably will never attain.

Like all things done by the 15-time All-Star, movie star, rapper, actor and entertainer, O’Neal, 40, received his degree in Organizational Learning and Leadership with a specialization in Human Resource Development in style.

And here’s the best part of it. O’Neal did not just squeeze through the cracks to get the highest degree possible in American education. He achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.813 while completing 54 credit hours at Barry — mostly through online courses and video conferencing over the last four years. His Doctoral Capstone Project was titled: “How Leaders Utilize Humor or Seriousness in Leadership Styles.”

Wearing a bright red XXXL-sized robe, the 7-foot, 1, 325-pound retired center got on one knee on stage so Dr. David M. Kopp could place a light blue hood around his big neck. O’Neal celebrated by standing up and lifting up Kopp like Tarzan rescuing Jane. The moment, which was being captured by TV cameras and student’s cell phones, brought on loud cheers from the crowd.

O’Neal then walked over hugged Terry Piper the dean for the school of education before posing for photos with his cap, gown and hood like all the other students. On his way back to his seat, alongside his manager Cynthia Atterberry, who also received a doctorate in education, O’Neal strolled by a star struck row of graduates handing out high-fives like he was walking past teammates on the bench.

Shaq joins a very elite group of current and former athletes who completed the highest degrees before, during or after their playing careers. Let’s take a look at who they are:

terry shropshire

Terry Shropshire
Terry Shropshire

A military veteran and Buckeye State native, I've written for the likes of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Business Chronicle and the Detroit Free Press. I'm a lover of words, photography, books, travel, animals and The Ohio State Buckeyes. #GoBucks



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