For Shaquille O’Neal, 45, it’ll always be a lingering question of “what if?” He was supposed to join Biggie Smalls and attend an after-party for the Soul Train Music Awards on March 9, 1997, but ended up sleeping through it, according to The Undefeated. As Shaq slumbered, Biggie was fatally shot just fifty yards away from where the party was held. “I don’t say I could’ve prevented it,” said Shaq, looking back on the fateful night. “I was just saying, if I was out there by the car, would they still have fired? That’s the only thing I would say to myself.”
“I don’t wanna make it seem like I could’ve saved him,” Shaq added. “I don’t wanna make it seem like if I was there, the shooters wouldn’t have shot. If I was there by the truck, after we all left and I’m dapping him up, would they still have shot?”
Shaq actually bumped into Biggie near a tattoo parlor on Sunset Boulevard, just days before the rapper’s murder outside the Petersen Automotive Museum. Shaq, noting that Biggie was in LA just six months after Tupac Shakur was shot, told him to “be careful.” The Notorious B.I.G. didn’t seem too concerned. “Yeah, yeah,” Biggie said. “I’m good. But come to my party.”
The Shaq-Biggie connection was cemented on the 1994 track, “Gimmie The Loot,” where Biggie rapped “I’m slamming n****s / Like Shaquille.” Shaq has been forever grateful for the shout-out. “It just showed me that a lot of people appreciated what I was doing – just like I appreciated what [Biggie] was doing.”
The two would collaborate in 1996, when Biggie popped up to spit a verse on the title track to Shaq’s third rap album, You Can’t Stop The Reign. Biggie’s rhymes were so great, they were fit for a king, as Michael Jackson would reuse the verse on his song, “Unbreakable.” Wow. No wonder that some fans think that even two decades after his death, Biggie remains one of the most influential voices in the rap world.
What do you think about Shaq wondering if he could have saved Biggie’s life, HollywoodLifers?