Shaquille O’Neal is a LA Lakers legend, but he grew up in Newark, New Jersey. Shaq also spent some time in San Antonio, Texas, and Germany. The Hall of Fame big man recently gave back to his hometown of Newark by unveiling two new community projects.
As reported by CBS News, O’Neal visited Newark on Monday and helped in showcasing the newly renovated Comebaq Court on Hawthorne Avenue. The Lakers legend also had some advice for the teenagers present at the unveiling.
“I’m you. We come from the same place,” O’Neal said. “I have the answers to all the tests, and I give you all the information. First thing you need to do is listen. Listen. Listen to your parents. Listen to your teachers. Second thing you need to do is believe. Follow your dreams.”
O’Neal helped restore and refurbish the Comebaq Court through the help of his own foundation. Newark Mayor Ras Baraka had nothing but praise for the four-time NBA champ. O’Neal has credited the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in Newark for keeping him safe and out of trouble as a teenager.
“Shaquille O’Neal is a Newark native who has brought this city glory and fame on the NBA court and given back to us through community commitment and investment,” Baraka said. “The new Comebaq Court is another example of these works that will greatly benefit our youth.”
The Comebaq Courts has a new, freshly designed blacktop with new baskets and scoreboards. Mayor Baraka also added that the project will become a part of the city’s new state-of-the-art recreation program. The main goal of this program is for the youth in Newark to be engaged and healthy.
Shaquille O’Neal also unveiled a new residential building
In addition to the renovated Comebaq Court, Shaquille O’Neal also helped unveil a new 33-story mixed income residential tower project. The building, presumably called “Shaq Tower 2,” will be on Edison Place and will be the largest mixed-income project in New Jersey, according to ABC New York.
The project aims to provide 370 affordable apartments to the Newark community. It will also create around 500 construction jobs and 50 permanent jobs. The building is expected to have several amenities like a roof-deck lounge, a gym and an outdoor pool.
The building is made possibly a collaboration between the City of Newark, Citibank and Bridge Development Group, Boraie Development, Goldman Sachs, Prudential and O’Neal. The Newark native said the project was made possible by the efforts of the mayor.
“When I first met Mayor Baraka, we talked about restoring my favorite city to its past glory,” O’Neal said. “Today, looking around Newark, you can see what teamwork and commitment looks like under true leadership. And that’s why Mayor Baraka is my favorite mayor.”