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Shaquille O’Neal Says He’s ‘Just Happy’ These Days: ‘Happy to Be Working, Happy to Have Friends’ (Exclusive)

"I don't take myself too seriously," the former Los Angeles Laker tells PEOPLE exclusively

<p>Ethan Miller - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty</p> Shaquille O

Ethan Miller - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty

Shaquille O'Neal attends Sports Illustrated Club SI during the F1 Grand Prix of Las Vegas on November 18, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Shaquille O'Neal has publicly expressed regret about the "mistakes" he's made in his personal life on multiple occasions, but the entrepreneur, podcast host, and basketball legend tells PEOPLE he's "just happy" these days.

"I'm just happy to be working, happy to have friends, and happy to be able to help out people in need," says O'Neal, who celebrated his 52nd birthday on March 6 in Las Vegas.

"Every day is my birthday. Today's my birthday too. So, I'm just happy," he says with a laugh when asked how he celebrated another trip around the sun last week.


"Every day is really my birthday, but to answer the question, I had a show in Vegas, and there were about 50,000 people there," he says, referring to his musical alter-ego DJ Diesel's live set.

O'Neal retired from the NBA in 2011, but he remains among the most beloved personalities in basketball through his co-hosting gig on TNT's Inside the NBA and various partnerships in sports and entertainment.

Through his eclectic success over the years, O'Neal says his secret to navigating the pressures of his celebrity is to "not pay attention to feedback" most of the time.

Related: Shaquille O'Neal Says He Made a Lot of 'Dumbass Mistakes' with His Family: 'I Was an Idiot'

"I don't take myself seriously. So if I hear something crazy, I go strictly into laugh mode," he says. "I mean, there's not really much you can do, so just got to laugh it off. I'm not one of those guys who has to portray myself as a regular guy," O'Neal explains.

He continues, "I make mistakes. But I live by certain principles. Be nice to people, respect people, and be who you are. That's me."

Paras Griffin/Getty Shaquille O'Neal speaks during Pepsi Stronger Together and CTG Foundation ATL Press Conference on April 07, 2021 in McDonough, Georgia
Paras Griffin/Getty Shaquille O'Neal speaks during Pepsi Stronger Together and CTG Foundation ATL Press Conference on April 07, 2021 in McDonough, Georgia

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This month, O'Neal is looking forward to combining his words of wisdom with basketball during this year's March Madness Tournament through his partnership with Home Depot.

"This project is very, very fun and very cute. It's called Tips from the Tool Shaq," O'Neal explains. The partnership with Home Depot includes an upcoming content series featuring an extensive collection of project guides, step-by-step videos and “Tips from the Tool Shaq” on their website, launching on March 17.

In January, O'Neal became the first Orlando Magic player to ever have a jersey number retired. O’Neal played four years for the Magic, winning Rookie of the Year in 1993 and guiding the team to the NBA Finals in the 1995-1996 season.

Before the ceremony, the retired athlete said the recognition by the Magic made him "sad" during an interview with PEOPLE.

<p>Focus on Sport/Getty Images</p> Shaquille O'Neal plays for the Orlando Magic in 1994

Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Shaquille O'Neal plays for the Orlando Magic in 1994

Related: Shaquille O’Neal Reveals What He Said to Taylor Swift When They Met at the Super Bowl (Exclusive)

“It actually makes me sad and I'm going to tell you why. The guy that created all this passed away about nine, 10 years ago,” O’Neal shared, referring to his stepfather Phillip Harrison, who died in September 2013 after a series of health issues. “My mom will be there, so this is more their moment than it is mine.”

“It was a great four years, so I'm happy,” he says of his time with the team.

O’Neal was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 2016.

A 15-time NBA All-Star and three-time NBA Finals MVP, O’Neal had his jersey retired by the Lakers in 2013 and by the Heat in 2016. He is now only the second player in NBA history to have his jersey retired by three separate teams, according to NBC Los Angeles. Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain is the other.

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Read the original article on People.