Shaquille O’Neal pays homage to Muhammad Ali, calls legendary boxer his “hero”

Former NBA player Shaquille O'Neal attends Fanatics Super Bowl Party on February 6, 2016 in San Francisco, California. Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Fanatics

Celebrities continue to pay their respects to the late Muhammed Ali who died of septic shock on Friday at the age of 74. Retired basketball stars Shaquille O’Neal and Grant Hill wore shirts with the word “GOAT” on it, symbolizing the legendary boxer as the Greatest Of All Time. The 44-year-old Newark native opened up about his connection to “The People’s Champ” and the big role he played within his family.

Reppin the GOAT SHIRTS with @realgranthill THIS FOR U CHAMP, THE WORLD WILL NEVER FORGET #muhammadali

A photo posted by DR. SHAQUILLE O'NEAL Ed.D. (@shaq) on

#RIP Champ!!

A photo posted by Grant Hill (@realgranthill) on

“He was a great man,” Shaq told NBATV. “For me and my household, when my father couldn’t get through to me as a medium-level juvenile delinquent, he would always show me Muhammad Ali clips. He would always show me his quotes. He said, ‘Look, Muhammad Ali comes from the same place you come. I know you have a weird name … Muhammad Ali has a similar type name. If he can do it, you can do it.’”

“He’s definitely my hero. My kids’ hero. My family’s hero. He will definitely be missed but never forgotten.”