Shaquille O’Neal has promised “the best celebrity makeover” ever.
That’s only partly hyperbole from the talkative 7-foot-1 NBA Hall of Fame center about his appearance on CBS’ “Secret Celebrity Renovation” (Friday, 8 EDT/PDT).
O’Neal, 50, shows his family love in the episode dedicated to the renovation of Orlando, Florida, the home of his uncle Roy O’Neal. The selfless uncle hosted Shaq’s entire family when the budding superstar was the Orlando Magic’s first-round pick in 1992. He never asked for anything in return, not even tickets to see his superstar nephew play.
What really makes the episode special is Shaq’s effortless star personality.
“He’s so hilarious,” says “Boston” Rob Mariano, the “Survivor” star who is the show’s celebrity contractor. “People may know this, but seeing this in real life is really special.”
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Shaq wants to install a hot tub in the living room
Right off the bat, Shaq pushes Mariano to install a hot tub in his uncle’s living room, so the hot tub will be the first thing everyone sees when they walk into the house.
It sounds like a joke, but Shaq keeps bringing up the “Shaq-cuzzi”. Interior designer Sabrina Soto isn’t thrilled with the idea. “It was like, ‘Are you serious?’ Sabrina is a serious designer, she’s not going to allow that, but Shaq wouldn’t give up,” says Mariano.
Eventually, Mariano agreed to install a spa in the backyard. Shaq was the happiest guy in the tub, even more so than Uncle Roy.
Shaq finds good work excuses
“Sometimes you have to sit back and let people do what they do,” O’Neal told us after filming the episode. It’s his explanation of why he seemed content to sit on the couch while the professionals carried out the renovations, when most of the celebrities were involved.
“My arthritis just kicked in,” was one of the excuses he used to comically retire from work. After betting that Mariano couldn’t knock down an unwanted door, Shaq not only refuses to pay the $40 bet, but he forces Mariano to replace the door solo. “You knocked it down, you put it together,” he says.
“Shaq does what Shaq wants to do,” says Mariano.
Shaq is capable of all-star demolition
As his basketball days proved, a driven Shaq is an impressive sight to behold. When he set about renovating, O’Neal destroyed unwanted shelves and counters with his fists and sledgehammers, all accompanied by hilarious commentary. Especially after ingesting his sugar.
“I am Black Thor,” he proclaims, brandishing the hammer against shelves that don’t stand a chance.
“I hate you, Charles Barkley,” he randomly blurts out in destruction mode. “Barkley sucks.”
There could (and should) be an entire episode dedicated just to Shaq destroying houses. Naturally, he didn’t need a ladder to remove old paint from the ceiling, so he turned out to be incredibly practical.
Shaq knows exactly what he wants, even in paint colors
Growing up, a big treat was being allowed to sit in one of his uncle’s immaculate cars. So O’Neal paid that forward, dipping into his own pocket to buy a new Toyota 4Runner. He sends a friend of his to pick up the car like most people ask for errands, while insisting that the car must be a specific shade of green.
He picks up a lime green rope and a tree branch and says, “Between those two colors.” Sure enough, the 4Runner has that spanking shade of green. Uncle Roy adores it, calling it “Green Money”.
Shaq even cry funny
The best part of surprise renovations is normally the tears of joy shed upon seeing the job completed. But neither Shaq nor his Uncle Roy are screamers, even seeing a completely redone house (with a hot tub).
“That’s how I cry,” Shaq said, flexing his chest muscle with a deadpan stare.
Not a tear is shed. But Uncle Roy’s voice trembles a little when he thanks his nephew, saying: “I love him very, very much.”
Says Shaq: “It’s probably one of the best things I’ve done in my life.”