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Shaq Attacks Campus Binge Drinking

The NBA legend, who lost his uncle to a drunk driver, joins a campaign to highlight the dangers of college binges.

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A mighty voice against binge drinking
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By McCarton Ackerman

09/18/12

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At 7'1", Shaquille O'Neal was always a huge presence on court; now he's hoping to make similar impact against campus binge drinking. He and Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver (D-MO), spoke for a campaign sponsored by the Century Council to fight binge drinking at historically black colleges and universities. Cleaver and O'Neal share a personal investment in the cause: Shaq's uncle Tom Nelson, a close friend of Cleaver's, was killed as a passenger in a single-car crash. The driver had been drinking heavily. “He walked away without a scratch, and my best friend was killed instantly. He went right through the dash,” says Cleaver. "That had an impact on my life forever." Although this campaign is targeted towards historically black universities, a recent study from Morgan State University showed that binge drinking rates at these schools are lower than at universities with a predominantly white student body: “It may be that when students at historically black schools go out, it is for a purpose,” says researcher Linda Loubert, comparing this to the "casual style of ‘let's go drinking’” found at many universities. But Cleaver says he hopes to make clear that weekend binge drinking can be even deadlier than the drinking patterns that many understand as alcoholism. “People will generally shun alcoholics, but they won’t shun binge drinkers—because on Monday, everybody’s at work,” he says. “Nobody is falling out on the campus. They’re back in class, so obviously there’s nothing wrong with them.”

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