Shaq’s Mother Inspired His Quiet Generosity – Leaves Jaw-Dropping Tip After Buying Dinner for Entire Restaurant

Christmas often comes early whenever Shaq is in the house. Actor/NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal recently bought dinner for an entire restaurant to the tune of $25,000 and left the wait staff one of the biggest tips of their life.

O’Neal was on a date with a “mystery woman” and dropped in for dinner at Jue Lan Club in New York City. After his date ordered their meal, O’Neal decided to not pick up the bill for everyone dining in the restaurant, but he also bought the wait staff a meal too.

Shaq buys everyone dinner – plus a huge tip for the servers

A source who witnessed the encounter told Page Six that O’Neal wanted to remain anonymous to the rest of the diners at the restaurant. He ended up buying dinner for about 40 tables at the restaurant.

Shaquille O'Neal and his mother Lucille O'Neal are photographed outside Good Morning America in 2013
Shaquille O’Neal and his mother Lucille O’Neal| Raymond Hall/FilmMagic

Dinner bills came in “well over $25,000” according to the source. Plus, O’Neal, “left [servers] the biggest tip they’ve ever received.”

Buying dinner (and more) for everyone is just what Shaq does

This isn’t O’Neal’s first act of kindness. He previously paid for an engagement ring when he witnessed a man in a jewelry store worry about how he’d pay for it when he wanted to propose. During a previous interview with Showbiz Cheat Sheet, he shared where he gets his passion for generosity.

“It’s from my mother,” he said. “It’s [about] making people smile.” O’Neal said he recognizes hard work and wants to help when he can. “What I saw was a hard-working kid,” he recalled about the moment in the jewelry store. O’Neal decided to pay for the ring when the man mulled over how to pay for it.

But then O’Neal recalled how the man was so shocked he said he just couldn’t accept the extremely generous gesture. “But I said, ‘Naw, do it,'” O’Neal recalled. Adding that he supports people, “who do an honest day’s work. And this kid was young. You don’t see a lot of 21, 22-year-olds out there, just working and he had a girlfriend.” O’Neal added that he, “Just had to do it.”

O’Neal also purchased a family van and bought dinner for a family in February. During dinner, Shaq learned that the server’s car had broken down that day. So he left a $1,000 tip.

His mother inspired him to give back to others

O’Neal may also be inspired to help others because he saw how his mother Lucille struggled as a young mother trying to raise a family. “You’re always in the thick of it. I’m telling you the truth about that,” Lucille told TODAY. She said the family was “always lacking something, whether it was food, clothes, or transportation.”

She added, “It got easier when we banded together as a family.”

Lucille was also a big proponent of education, even when her son was making bank in the NBA or shooting a film. “I would bring home a lot of money and all that, but I would look on my favorite person’s face, and she would put her hand on my shoulder and say, ‘Baby, you promised to go back to school,’” O’Neal said (via The Dallas Morning News). “And I’m like, ‘I’m shooting a movie called Kazaam.’”

“I saw that movie,” he recalled his mother’s response. “You need to take your a** back to school.’”

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