Shaquille O’Neal is also donating profits from the celebration to the families of the 7 other victims of the Calabasas helicopter crash. After much thought, Shaquille O’Neal has decided not to cancel his Shaq’s Funhouse Super Bowl Party this weekend and is using it as an opportunity to continue to honor his late friend Kobe Bryant.
On Wednesday, O’Neal, 47, revealed he had thought about not hosting the celebration as he wanted to “stay to myself” and “reflect” following Bryant’s tragic death on Sunday. Bryant died at the age of 41 with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna in a horrific Calabasas helicopter crash that killed 7 others, who were also beloved members of a close-knit California community.
“Been going back and forth the past couple of days on if I should even have my event in Miami this weekend. Part of me wanted to stay to myself as I reflect what my brother and his family mean to me and my family,” O’Neal wrote on Twitter.
He shared, however, that he made up his mind after thinking of what Bryant would want him to do.
“Kobe would want us to push through and celebrate life. So lets do just that,” O’Neal continued, before sharing that he will be donating the proceeds from his party to not only the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant foundation, but also to the families of John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan.
“I’ll be dedicating and donating all my proceeds from Friday nights Fun House to all the families who lost loved ones and to the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Foundation,” O’Neal wrote.
Bryant and his wife launched the foundation in 2006 as a public charity dedicated to improving the lives of youth and families in need.
“Together we will celebrate all those who lost their lives in Sundays tragedy. Rip to my brother, my friend and my homie. The Black Mama. Until we meet again,” O’Neal concluded.
On Tuesday night, O’Neal led fans gathered outside of the Staples Center in a spontaneous “Kobe” chant.
Footage of the heartwarming moment from Tuesday night shows O’Neal walking out to cheers from the crowd after his emotional appearance on a TNT pre-game special. In the clip, the basketball legend raises a finger to quiet everyone gathered outside of the arena, then begins chanting “Kobe! Kobe!” as the crowd joins in.
O’Neal, along with NBA greats Dwyane Wade, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith, had gathered at the Staples Center on Tuesday for a tribute to Bryant.
The former Los Angeles Lakers player was visibly emotional on the pre-game special when recalling his time with Bryant. After struggling to keep his composure, O’Neal eventually broke down in tears and said he “didn’t want to believe it” when he first heard the news of his friend’s death.
“I haven’t felt a pain that sharp in a while,” he said, before reflecting on all of the things he would never be able to do with Bryant again.
“We’re not going to be able to joke at his Hall of Fame Ceremony,” he said. “Those are the things you can’t get back.”
O’Neal continued: “That’s the only thing, I wish I could just say something to him again.”
The athlete’s comments on the TNT pre-game special echoed his remarks on his show The Big Podcast with Shaq one day earlier.
“I wish we would have communicated more,” O’Neal revealed on the Monday episode. “That’s just how we are. Of course, when we saw each other it was love and respect and you know looking out for the kids. His daughter Gigi was a fabulous player. I just wish I could have talked to him before, that’s it … I just wish he was here. I wish I could say something to him.”