Shaquille O’Neal may be best known for his time playing basketball, but the retired NBA star is also a savvy investor and smart saver.
At least he is now.
“My first check, I blew it,” O’Neal, 46, said Friday on CNBC’s “Fast Money.” “I blew it in like 20 minutes.”
But O’Neal wasn’t just being careless with his money. “I bought my mom a car, dad a car, paid off their credit, bought them a house,” he explains.
At the time, O’Neal says he knew he was young and would have more money coming in, and after that first splurge, he became savvier and started stashing more in savings.
O’Neal says his late father, Phillip Harrison, had a positive impact on how he approached his finances. Harrison, who married O’Neal’s mother, Lucille, when O’Neal was was 2, was an Army drill sergeant. Harrison taught him self-discipline — an attribute O’Neal says is essential for young savers.
“Every time an athlete would do something crazy, I would get in trouble for it. So my father did a very great job using scare tactics,” O’Neal recalls on “Fast Money.”
“A lot of athletes, when they’re done playing, they have no income. And they go broke. And I never wanted to be like that. So even when I was making a lot of money playing basketball, I would come home and see my father, and [he’d] be like, ‘Yeah, but what are you doing with your money?’”
Over time, O’Neal’s financial prowess grew, as well as his net worth. While O’Neal retired from basketball in 2011, he’s still growing his fortune through investments and numerous business ventures, and in 2016, Forbes reported his net worth at over $400 million.
Those investments include Google, in which O’Neal invested in the ’90s (an opportunity that came his way through a serendipitous babysitting gig), as well as Ring, a smartphone-friendly home security system that recently sold to Amazon for a whopping $1 billion.
So what’s O’Neal’s financial advice to the fresh-faced players that have just been drafted? It’s something anyone can heed really.
“I’d tell them that this money isn’t going to last forever,” says O’Neal. “You’ve got to save it, you’ve got to invest it and you’ve got to be smart.”