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Unable to Give Odessa a Gold Memorial, ‘Heartbroken’ Shaquille O’Neal Once Dedicated His 50-Point Performance to His Grandma

Growing up without his biological father, Shaquille O’Neal was inadvertently close to his mother’s side of the family. This included his grandmother Odessa Chambliss, a former nurse who died in April 1996. The LA Lakers legend described Odessa and her funeral in his book, “Shaq Talks Back.” O’Neal described how her grandma had wanted a simple funeral, but he could not help but hold a big memorial in her memory.

What’s more, Shaq described the kind of impact Odessa had had on his life. The NBA legend claimed that after she died on April 2nd, he started dedicating each of the games that occurred on that date to his grandmother. This included a 50-point performance against the Brooklyn Nets back in 1998.

Shaquille O’Neal describes his unique bond with grandmother Odessa Chambliss

In 2011, Shaquille O’Neal established the Odessa Chambliss Quality of Life Fund, a charitable organization dedicated to honoring the memory of his grandmother. The entire O’Neal family joins in celebrating the legacy of Odessa, a woman known for her simplicity and humble desires.

In his book, O’Neal recounts how Odessa had expressed her wish for a small headstone next to her late husband’s grave. However, driven by his deep affection for his grandmother, Shaq went above and beyond by organizing a grand memorial to commemorate her life.

O’Neal also shares his cherished collection of mementos from his grandmother, including an old perfume, a spectacle box, and a plaque. Furthermore, he reveals his annual tradition of dedicating every April 2nd game in honor of his beloved grandmother.

“After she passed away, I had wanted to give her the best mausoleum. I wanted to give her a big memorial, with gold on everything. She didn’t want that. She wanted something simple. A little headstone right next to Grandpa. It was the first funeral I ever attended. I still have mementos of her everywhere. I have her old perfume and her old spectacles underneath a glass case in my Orlando home. I have a plaque in her memory in my bedroom in Los Angeles. Since she passed away, I have privately dedicated every game played on April 2 to her. I go to work for her that day. I once scored 50 points against the Nets on April 2, but I never told anyone what motivated me. Odessa Chambliss still motivates me. She was a great woman, and sometimes I still can’t believe she’s gone.”

The mentioned book excerpt provides compelling evidence of the deep bond between Shaquille O’Neal and his late grandmother. This close relationship had a profound influence on him both on and off the basketball court. In a remarkable display of tribute, Shaq delivered an exceptional performance on April 2, 1998, scoring an impressive 50 points during a game against the New Jersey Nets.

This achievement serves as a testament to the powerful connection he felt with his grandmother and the significant impact her memory had on his athletic prowess. By honoring her on this special day, Shaq demonstrated his love and respect, delivering a standout performance that etched her influence into the annals of basketball history.

Shaq used to think of his grandmother’s lap as a “safe place”

During his formative years, Shaquille O’Neal had an incredibly close bond with his grandmother, whom he greatly admired. In his memoir, “Shaq Uncut,” O’Neal revealed a heartfelt sentiment about his grandmother’s influence on his life.

He once confided in Phil Jackson, his former coach, expressing that it was his grandmother’s lap where he felt the utmost sense of security and comfort. This profound statement illustrates the deep emotional connection O’Neal shared with his beloved grandmother, highlighting the pivotal role she played in shaping his life.

“In my grandmother Odessa’s lap, while she’s sitting in her rocking chair,” the big man answered. “And how did that come to be your safe place?” “She would find me after I messed up when I was a kid,” Shaquille said. “After I did something really stupid and my father gave me a beating. “When he was done hitting me, she’d sneak into my room and slip me a piece of pound cake and rock me and tell me, ‘It’s okay, baby. Everything is gonna be fine.’ ”

According to Shaquille O’Neal, he found solace and inner calmness in the memories of his grandmother, even in intense moments on the basketball court. In a pivotal Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals against the Portland Trail Blazers, O’Neal shared that reflecting on his grandmother helped him regain composure and focus during the final quarter.

This personal connection to his grandmother served as a source of strength and motivation, enabling him to channel his emotions and perform at his best when it mattered most. This anecdote highlights the profound impact his grandmother’s memory had on O’Neal’s mindset and his ability to rise to the occasion under pressure.

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