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Jocks to GIs: Shaquille O'Neal

From: Shaquille O'Neal

Sent: Sunday, April 6, 2003 5:20 PM
To: Franklin, YN1 Antonio
Subject: No subject

Tony,

Hopefully this finds you in good spirits. Just got up from my nap and I was watching the news. I see that things are heating up.


We had a tough game down in Memphis, your team. They played us hard, had us down before we went to work and pulled it out. We were down by 23 points at one point. We beat Dallas the night before and we got into Memphis at 3 am. The team was dragging. Did you get a chance to see it or highlights on ESPN?


Thanks for the invite for the chitterlings, however, I don't eat them. Next time we get to Memphis I will invite your folks to a game as my guest.


To answer you questions;


Yes, Kobe and I are friends. He is really like my little brother. We sometimes go out after practice when we are on the road.


I am saved and I am constantly working on my relationship with GOD in an attempt to be exactly what he wants me to be.


Peace


Shaq


From: Franklin, YN1 Antonio

Sent: Wednesday, April 2, 2003 7:34 AM
To: Shaquille O'Neal
Subject: RE: THANKS!

Shaq,

Don't get me wrong...I'm a Lakers fan; just not as my first choice. If you don't know by now, we've never had a professional team in the state of Tennessee (besides a couple of teams that eventually went into the ground). With that said, I have to put my heart, energy and money (attending the games in support) with regard to the Grizzlies. As far as Jerry West goes, I don't know him personally, but as far as I can see "HE IS THE MAN!" He's making some good moves with the Grizzlies and the city of Memphis!


Do you really feel like you have enough juice in ya to go after more championships? Why I ask, well I can only imagine the wear and tear your body takes and continues to take on a daily basis....with practice, the games, and traveling. I know you guys (the teams throughout the league) hire the top of the line trainers, sports managers, conditioners, etc., however, how can your body actually take the pounding almost daily and continue to bounce back....lol?


Shaq, do you eat chitterlings? If so, let me know and I can get my folks to hook ya up with a plate on your next visit to Memphis!


Couple questions: Are you and Kobe good friends? Are you saved?


Tony


From: Shaquille O'Neal

Sent: Tuesday, April 1, 2003 1:34 PM
To: Franklin, YN1 Antonio
Subject: RE: THANKS!

Tony,

Good day, unfortunately I don't know what time it is over there. We got lucky, no practice today. At this point in the season any time off is greatly appreciated.

It's 11am here in California. Did you see the game last night, or did you see ESPN? I took it easy. I got 34 points and 11 boards. The first two were yours. You are right, the Grizzlies are an up and coming team. They played hard and they wouldn't go away.

Jerry West, their GM, is a very good friend and mentor to me (he is a big reason why I came to LA), he has put together a very competitive team. I like the trades that he has made. Bring in a coach like Hubie Brown, who is a drill sergeant, will only help make them into a championship caliber team that much sooner. But remember, the road to the championship runs through Los Angeles.

To answer your question, the fan wrote something derogatory on the ball. I really don't get into stuff like that. It is a shame when some fans step out of bounds. We are lucky that the vast majority of the fans in the NBA don't feel or act like that, they just enjoy watching good competitive basketball.

To answer your second question, yes, I will still like to act. However, that will come after a few more championships. I am more focused and determined then ever to get a few more before hanging up the sneakers. You should think about being a LAKERS fan, but I understand you supporting your hometown.

Be safe, stay in touch. Say hello to everyone and thanks for helping preserve our freedom.

Shaq


From: Franklin, YN1 Antonio

Sent: Tuesday, April 1, 2003 2:24 AM
To: Shaquille O'Neal
Subject: THANKS!

Shaq,

Good morning! Glad to see that you did what you promised you were going to do.....beat up on my Grizzlies (or "not take it easy on them").....not cool! We (Grizzlies) are still young and growing....watch out in a couple of years....I also see you in a Grizzlies uniform...lol! So, now I'm in the record books of the NBA....yeah baby.....u said that the first two points were mines....lol! Tks!

Shaq, it is still so weird that I'm actually talking to you.....tks again for taking the time to make this dream a reality. I second your last paragraph on your email to me.....I salute the men and women (and civilians) that serve our WONDERFUL country....we have folks on the frontline, back in the states, in Embassy's and all over this world supporting and defending our freedoms. It's feels good to be a part of this great effort. When you watch the CENTCOM Briefs given by General Franks and General Brooks (my boss) and others, folks here in my shop (CENTCOM PA) are working hard to ensure we give you guys as much information as we can and clean up some of the rumors/lies that tend to float out there without putting our troops that are in this effort of overturning the Iraqi Regime in further harm's way. Not an easy JOB, but we will continue to stay on course. We have a wonderful staff of Public Affairs Officers that come from all the different services....NAVY, ARMY, MARINES & AIR FORCE. We are lead by Mr. Jim Wilkinson, Colonel Ray Shepherd and lot of others (both Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers) that I will not name for fear of leaving someone off.....GOOD JOB ALL! (my little personal shout out to the CENTCOM PA staff).

Questions:

Did the fan just sign their signature on the ball or did they write some derogatory statement on the ball?

Are you still trying to act?

Tony


From: Shaquille O'Neal

Sent: Monday, March 31, 2003 12:38 PM
To: Franklin, YN1 Antonio
Subject: RE: Good Morning!

Tony,

First, let me say that you are not a pest and don't think that you are boring me. I have seen a special on the Central Command Center and was extremely impressed with the leadership, dedication and technology there. We truly have the best of the best.


Being a former Army brat I was excited when ESPN contacted me about being part of "Jocks-to-GIs Direct." I count this as truly an honor and a blessing just to communicate with someone so close and committed to preserving peace throughout the world. Lately the first thing that I do after watching ESPN is watch CNN for the war update. I try to watch the Centcom briefing with General Franks or General Brooks, it depends on what went on the night before and where we are at. I love watching the live briefing.


I am glad also to hear that you were raised by a loving mother and it sounds as though you adore her as much as I do my mother. My mother is undoubtedly my favorite girl.


The ball with which I scored my 20,000th point in Sacramento had been written on, supposedly by a fan. It did disturb me. I work so hard at my game and that was a big accomplishment for my family, my teammates and me. In my mind I had already planned to give it to my Dad and I knew exactly where he would put it. The Maloof brothers, the owners of the Kings, had the ball cleaned and then wrote a letter apologizing for the fan's behavior. They are now sending it to me.


Today we are playing your home team. I can't promise that I am going to take it easy on them but the first points are yours.


As much as I enjoy my freedom and enjoy playing the game of basketball, I appreciate more the men and women of the armed forces who allow us the freedom to do what we love to do. I constantly pray for a speedy and safe return for all our troops and their families here and abroad. Now I will be asking a special prayer for you.


Please stay in touch. You can email me as often as you like, I will respond.


Thanks for caring! Be safe. I look forward to your safe return. Say hello to the troops and thanks to all.


Shaq


From: Franklin, YN1 Antonio

Sent: Saturday, March 29, 2003 8:37 AM
To: Shaquille O'Neal
Subject: Good Morning!

Hello Shaq,

How is it going? Things here are going okay over here...besides being a little hot! I've been at Camp AS Sayliyah (Doha, Qatar) for about a month and a half and it has been pretty busy thus far. Our days are long and nights are very short...that's okay; we are here for a reason. Before I talk your head off, I have to ask you: I read that someone accidentally wrote on the basketball that was used in the game when you scored your 20,000th point. Was it noticeable? Did it bother you that much? I saw that the Kings were apologetic.


Shaq, I like you a lot and have much respect for you, but I TRULY and HONESTLY do not want to be bothering you or be a pest. You are a true diplomat for the sport of B-Ball and I'm TRULY honored to be corresponding with you.


I'm 29 years old and I'm from Memphis, Tennessee (born in Chicago). I'm in the United States Navy and have been for the past 11 years. I'm normally assigned/stationed at the Navy Personnel Command (Personnel Headquarters for the Navy) in Millington, Tennessee (yeah, home of the Memphis Grizzlies). I'm currently deployed to Doha, working for the Central Command Headquarters, the Command and Control center for the war.


I have two brothers (I'm the middle child): Mark, the oldest and Lance, the youngest. We were raised in a single parent household, with no assistance whatsoever from our dad...at all. My moms...she is my HEART, she is so giving of herself that I don't want to get into talking about how much she means to me...or I'll be going all night. Okay, back on course...I was pretty smart throughout school...pretty much a nerd! Not a bad thing, now that I know better. Back then, it was a bad thing...peer pressure is no joke! I was always on the Honor Roll and maintained good grades up until the 11th grade...when I knew I had enough credits to graduate...then I slacked off. We grew up in a middle-class (blue collar) neighborhood...not too bad, but not that great either...Moms never let us see the ugly...she shielded us from that.


I really never got into sports at an early age...I played piano for about four years and I dabbled with playing the alto saxophone in junior high, but I never did anything long enough to become an expert at any particular thing...regret it now! College...wow, that was way out of the question...didn't even cross my mind....didn't know about scholarships. The school I was going to at the time, well, how do I say this the correct way? The guidance counselors didn't push anything but military or jobs around the community...didn't push furthering your education or how to go about getting scholarships. Nobody in my family completed college, so there was no advice from anybody with experience. I was in the National Junior Honor Society, Who's Who Among High School Students, Math Honor Society (Junior High), etc. I just knew I wasn't going to college.


As for the military...well, I was in JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Course) in high school and fell in love with the training, the discipline and just the whole nine yards. They were teaching me about leadership...taking responsibility for your actions and some other things that I was just never enlightened to growing up. By my senior year it was time to make a decision...what branch of the military to go to. I knew I wasn't going to the Marines (no knock on them, just wasn't into doing the entry exam of push-ups and pull-ups at the MEPs station). I really wasn't too fond of the Army either (tell your dad, my bad!). It was going to either be the Air Force or the Navy. Well, if you didn't know, the Air Force does not recruit you, you have to come to them. So I did...and it was a nice first impression. But I was just as impressed with what the Naval recruiter had to say. Toss up: should I go Air or should I go Sea? I decided to go sea. It gave me more of an opportunity to see the world. It is 10:30pm local Qatari time and I'm tired...I'll write more later.


Tony Franklin