Shaq’s mother is keynote speaker at Boys & Girls Clubs fundraiser

Lucille and Shaquille O'Neal

Lucille O’Neal is much more than Shaq’s mom.

The mother of the retired NBA star has overcome turmoil in her personal life to become a noted motivational speaker and author. O’Neal, who wrote “Walk Like You Have Somewhere to Go,” will be the keynote speaker Oct. 17 at Shazam!, the annual gala benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland. The benefit is at the Intercontinental Hotel and Conference Center at Cleveland Clinic.

Tickets, which start at $200, can be purchased by contacting Lauren Pollock at or (216) 883-2106.

All proceeds from the event will benefit Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland, which serves more than 8,000 children at 12 locations in Cleveland’s inner-city neighborhoods as well as in Cleveland Heights and East Cleveland. BGCC provides a safe place for kids to learn and grow, cultivate ongoing relationships with caring adult professionals, take part in life-enhancing programs and develop good character.

O’Neal has endured poverty, rejection, abuse, addiction and the illness of a child, yet today her faith and compassion for others is stronger than ever. After becoming a mother at 17 – and eventually a wife and mother of three more children – O’Neal was married for 28 years, never letting go of her dream of going back to school. In 1997, she fulfilled that dream and graduated cum laude from Bethune-Cookman University. She later received a master’s degree from the University of Phoenix.

O’Neal shares her life story candidly. She is living proof that it is never too late for a new beginning.

The O’Neal family has had a long relationship with Boys & Girls Clubs.

In a Parade magazine story, Shaquille O’Neal credited the Boys and Girls Club of America in his hometown of Newark, New Jersey, with giving him a safe place to play and keeping him off the streets. “It gave me something to do,” he said. “I’d just go there to shoot. I didn’t even play on a team.”

O’Neal was inducted into the BGCA Alumni Hall of Fame in 2000. Today, he continues to be an active spokesperson in support of the Clubs.

O’Neal played for the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2009-10 season.