Shaquille O'Neal was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey.
O'Neal is a Muslim. His first and middle name–Shaquille and Rashaun–mean "little one" and "warrior" in Arabic, respectively. He is devout in his faith, saying:
Of course I believe in God. Only God could have given me what I have.
Furthermore, O'Neal has stated his intention to participate in the sacred Muslim right of passage known as Hajj, where Muslims travel to the holy city of Mecca.
However, Shaq doesn't want to exclude or alienate others of different faiths. And somewhat confusingly, he said:
You believe what they believe, you respect what they respect, and you respect that person as a man or a woman, and you'll make it far in life. Fact is I'm Muslim, I'm Jewish, I'm Buddhist, I'm everybody 'cause I'm a people person.
Also, Shaq is a high-ranking member of an organization long shrouded in mystery and intrigue–the Freemasons. It is often speculated that at their secretive meetings, the Freemasons plan the fate of great men and the governance of the worlds of politics and finance.
O'Neal is active in politics–both nationally and locally. In his adopted hometown of Los Angeles, O'Neal endorsed a District Attorney candidate named Carmen Trutanich–a non-partisan position. O'Neal recorded a phone message that was used to call potential Tratanich supporters that said, among other things:
Trust me. I don't get involved in politics very often. But, as a father and police officer, when it comes to our kids, I'm going to get involved. You should too by voting for Carmen Trutanich for District Attorney.
Trutanich lost. But when someone is involved in local politics, it's usually a sign that they truly care.
However, indicating his party affiliation, O'Neal endorsed Barack Obama in 2012, saying:
It's a hard job… You can't please everybody but I think he's doing a fabulous job. The world is in a little bit of turmoil right now — the economy's down — but… he's going to pick it back up and I think he's going to win this next election.
Given Shaq's effectiveness with the Trutanich campaign, Obama supporters might not be happy to hear that.