Shaquille O’Neal comes from the tough guy world of sports — and during Shaq’s playing days (and maybe even now) he was the biggest, strongest man in basketball. Bar none. Shaq also exhibited a mental toughness. As the receiver of a great deal of scrutiny and criticism to go with the praise and glory, Shaq mostly held his inventive tongue and stayed above the fray. Shaq used humor to keep the demons at bay — he had that gift. But he is thankfully a big enough man — in every sense — to know that many people can’t operate that way and instead face depression and other mental health issues.
— SHAQ (@SHAQ) May 26, 2017
Tough guy athletes are bred not to show weakness. So Shaq sets a very meaningful example when he tweets about the millions struggling with mental health issues and who never talk about it because of the stigma attached. It’s courageous, of course, when a sensitive pop star like Demi Lovato encourages young people to face their mental health issues without shame, but it broadens the canvas when an athlete of Shaquille O’Neal’s stature does it, too. Shaq saying “Start the Conversation” will encourage many that other mental health advocates can’t reach.