Shaquille O’Neal Praises Vanessa Bryant for ‘Holding People Responsible’ With Photo Lawsuit (Exclusive)

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Shaquille O’Neal is opening up about Vanessa Bryant and her lawsuit against Los Angeles County.


The former L.A. Laker and NBA legend recently spoke with ET’s Kevin Frazier, while announcing the exciting details of the Shaquille O’Neal Foundation’s second annual fundraiser gala.

While dishing on the star-studded benefit event, Shaq also reflected on his late teammate Kobe Bryant’s wife, and shared his praise for her lawsuit regarding graphic photos of the helicopter crash site that killed Kobe and the couple’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, which were taken and allegedly shared by the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.

“I feel for her,” Shaq said. “We’ve never talked a lot [but] we’ve always had respect for each other. Every time I see her, it’s a hug, it’s a laugh.”

Shaquille O’Neal hugs Vanessa Bryant during The Celebration of Life for Kobe & Gianna Bryant at Staples Center on Feb. 24, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

“But I couldn’t imagine what she’s going through,” he added. “We live in a world where, especially when it gets to the internet, people don’t care. But those are pictures that I would never, ever want to see, so she’s doing a great thing by holding people responsible.”

Meanwhile, according to reports, the on-the-court and off-the-court rivalry and friendship between Shaq and Kobe is supposedly going to be thrust into the spotlight once more as the main focus of the second season of HBO’s Winning Time— which got picked up for another season following the well-received but somewhat divisive first season that detailed the Lakers’ rise to glory

“Let me go on record and say I do not like the way they treated Mr. West,” Shaq said of the show’s first season, which drew fire from some — including Jerry West — over the show’s portrayals of real-life figures. “However, I found everything else to be very, very entertaining.”

As for the plans for the second season, the NBA great weighed in, “They’re going to do the whole Shaq and Kobe thing? That’d be very interesting. But listen, you know me. I have a great sense of humor, you know? I don’t really get sensitive on stuff. So, we will see what happens.”

In the meantime, Shaq is focusing his energy on his foundation’s upcoming fundraiser gala, “The Event,” presented by Pepsi Stronger Together. This year’s celeb performers include Maroon 5, Maren Morris, and comedian John Mulaney, among others who will be announced closer to the event on Oct. 1.

Reflecting on his passion for charity and philanthropy, Shaq explained, “I just like to make people smile.”

“You guys call it giving back, [but] it’s just something that I’d seen my mother and my father do growing up. And you know, for me, making a person smile is, like, my favorite thing.”

Taking place on Oct. 1 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, tickets to the charity gala go on sale to the public on Friday.


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