Shaq's talking basketball and more in bookstores across the country, but he lets us in on the L.A. secrets you won't find in his new autobiography.
"From the court, I sometimes look into the crowd and see people like Jack Nicholson, Jim Carrey, Christina Aguilera, Denzel Washington," says Shaquille O'Neal, athlete-actor-rapper, who has become the superhero of the Los Angeles Lakers. But the stars packing the bleachers are diminished by the biggest star of all: the 7'1", 315-pound center who has stepped into the shoes of Michael Jordan as America's premier basketball player. Any doubts about Shaq's supremacy were quelled when he led the Lakers to the 2000 NBA championship. But Shaq's reign in L.A. - where he lives in a 15,000-square-foot home with Superman logos on the walkway, in the flower beds, on doors, and across his bedspread - has been a long time coming. Growing up overseas on various military bases with his father, Shaquille joined the Louisiana State University basketball team at 17 and won just about every honor awarded. Leaving LSU his junior year, he was the number-one pick in the 1992 NBA draft. Signing with the Orlando Magic for a record $40 million for seven years, he became a star, leading the team to the 1995 finals and releasing his first rap album, Shaq Diesel, which went platinum; Shaq Fu-Da Return, which went gold; and three others. In 1996, he left Orlando for L.A., signing a seven-year, $120 million contract with the Lakers. In the off-season, he founded his own music label and clothing line called TWIsM ("The World Is Mine") and landed starring roles in the films Blue Chips, Kazaam, and Steel (here as, surprise, a larger-than-life DC Comics superhero). Last year, he made good on a promise made long ago to his mother: graduating from college at LSU. Today, Shaq continues to dominate the court and has just released his long-awaited autobiography, Shaq Talks Back, in which he tells all about his childhood, his multifaceted career, and his transformation into basketball's biggest superstar. Here's a weekend with Shaquille O'Neal in the city where the world really is his: Los Angeles.