Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal was spotted at a Memorial-area restaurant Monday, where he had a meal of chicken fried chicken and spent about an hour shooting the bull with the restaurant’s owner.
Shaq stopped at Union Kitchen’s Memorial location, owned by Paul Miller of Gr8 Plate Hospitality. Photos on Instagram show the two men, alongside Houston police officer Kenneth Miles, posting on the restaurant’s patio. Miller, who is 6’1” and a former college football player, is absolutely dwarfed by O’Neal, who is 7’1”.
According to the restaurant, Shaq and his entourage enjoyed chicken fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans and lots of gravy. The group also bought desserts for two other tables during their visit.
The two men also talked about their children, and Miller’s work with various Houston-area nonprofits, including Casa de Esperanza and Boys and Girls Country
“We spoke a little about business, but he lit up like a Christmas tree when we were talking about kids,” Miller said. “His kids, my kids and all the work he does with kids.”
It wasn’t Shaq’s first visit to a restaurant owned by Miller — in July, the athlete, actor and sports commentator visited Jax Grill on Shepherd Drive. Miles, the HPD officer, also joined him for that visit, during which they ate a similar meal — chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes, according to the Houston Chronicle.
It’s unclear when Shaq and Miles first befriended each other, but in early 2019 the duo teamed up to help pay for the funeral of Jazmine Barnes, a 7-year-old Houston girl who was killed in a hit-and-run shooting. During the athlete’s July visit to Houston, he was honored with a surprise humanitarian award by Mayor Sylvester Turner.