From the Huntsville Times:
NBA superstar here for 2 days, plans to return
One of the NBA’s biggest stars could soon be the city’s most famous property owner. Phoenix Suns center Shaquille O’Neal, a 14-time NBA All-Star, was in Huntsville for two days, “checking out real estate opportunities” and promising that he would be back within a couple of weeks with his family. “If a rocket goes off at the Space Center, it will probably be my son,” said O’Neal, 36.
The basketball star, dressed in gray pinstriped pants and vest, spoke at a Wednesday afternoon news conference at UAI – a public safety software solutions company on Wynn Drive – where O’Neal’s friend, S.K. Chauhan, is chairman and chief executive officer. Chauhan declined to say how they know each other, only that, “We have been good friends a long time.”
O’Neal – who attended high school in San Antonio and college at Louisiana State University – spoke to the media for just a few minutes before he got into a limousine and headed to the airport. During his visit this week, he was spotted Tuesday night at the Dolce restaurant at Bridge Street and in the Embassy Suites hotel downtown Wednesday morning. Ducking through doorways and dwarfing anyone near him, O’Neal mingled with employees and chatted with some of their children. He autographed basketballs and shook hands.
Neither O’Neal nor Chauhan would say if the property he was looking at was residential or commercial. The 7-foot-1, 325-pound superstar said he planned to buy something, “but I won’t say where.”
“I think he could squoosh just about anybody here,” said Luke Campbell, 7, son of UAI marketing executive Chery Campbell. “He’s got a really big hand. I know I’ve never seen anything like it.” A fire engine from next door’s Station No. 12 parked in the front lot of UAI just before O’Neal left, and the basketball star grinned and posed for pictures. The firemen gave him a T-shirt, and he said he’d “see you guys later.”
Even though he didn’t give many details about his plans, the basketball player said he was happy to do the brief news conference so he could “say hello to the beautiful people of Huntsville.”