1. Last Thursday, the Turner Sports studios just north of Georgia Tech’s campus were a veritable Shaq-tropolis. Tech guard Shaquille Mason, along with quarterback Vad Lee, ventured to the set of TNT’s Inside the NBA to meet Mason’s namesake, Shaquille O’Neal, along with Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson. Coincidentally, Barkley has also made time for Tech athletes, having spoken to the women’s basketball team earlier this year.
“It was amazing,” Mason said. “It was a great experience.”
The meeting was set up through Tech’s sports information office. Mason, whose mother Alicia McGuire named him after O’Neal, took with him an XXXL Tech jersey with O’Neal’s No. 32 and “Shaq” on the name plate.
“We talked about football a little bit,” he said. “Really just having a regular conversation like I knew him for awhile.”
O’Neal gave Mason his number and told him to keep in touch. Mason didn’t wait long, texting him when he got back to campus. O’Neal later called back.
Next challenge for the Tech sports information folks: Setting up a meeting with Mason and his middle-name namesake – Hakeem Olajuwon.
2. On an entirely different topic, safety Coray Carlson will hopefully soon make the day of a child whom he has never met but who could use a lift.
Carlson last week clipped about 11 inches of hair to donate to Locks of Love, a nonprofit that provides wigs to disadvantaged children who suffer from medically-related hair loss.
Carlson grew out his hair over the course of the 2010 season and was getting ready to cut it then, but then learned about the Locks of Love program and kept it untrimmed.
“I was like, You know what? I came this far, I might as well just keep going with it and do something good with it,” he said.
By the time he cut it, Carlson’s hair had grown down to his shoulders. Friday, he was wearing a buzzcut. His hair was in his room, tied up in banded ponytails.
“People have walked by me and they stop, run backwards, like, Coray, is that you? Oh, my god, I didn’t even recognize you,” Carlson said. “To be honest, even when I look in the mirror, I have to do a double glance. I’m like, Oh, I completely forgot about this.”
The experience of growing out his hair has been educational.
“It was a lot to keep up with,” Carlson said. “I have a lot more respect for women who have longer hair, because when I wash my hair, it takes forever to dry. It gets knots, it’d have split ends, you have all that. You just have a lot of maintenance with it. I really couldn’t do it anymore. It was too much for me.”
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog