Dressed in all black and wearing dark sunglasses on a rainy Saturday afternoon in Miami Beach, O’Neal, 47, was spotted walking through a crowd of 1500 people who attended Michael Rubin’s Fanatics Super Bowl party behind the Loews hotel.
The basketball star and TNT analyst has been so devastated that his friends weren’t sure he would make it to the Super Bowl festivities.
“I was with Shaq yesterday, and he remained just hurt,” Van Jones, CEO of Reform Alliance and a national news commentator, told PEOPLE during the Fanatics party. “He was walking like an 80-year-old man, yet saying good things to all of the people who wanted to hang around him. He tried to be upbeat but he is hurt. He is really hurt.”
Towering over most of the Fanatics guests, including JAY-Z, Dwyane Wade, former NFL star Emmitt Smith, Dr. Oz and Nick Lachey, O’Neal was polite, friendly and attempting to smile as he made his way through the throngs of sports fans to prepare for his tribute to Bryant.
During the party, which featured performances by The Chainsmokers, Swizz Beatz, Post Malone and Migos, O’Neal gave a lovely tribute to Bryant.
“The tribute was long but not somber, Shaq did not tear up,” a party guest who heard the tribute told PEOPLE. “He did a wonderful thing for Kobe, he talked about his guy.”
The 1500 party guests were gifted beautiful Los Angeles Lakers jerseys in the appropriate yellow and purple colors with the name Bryant and No. 24.
“I got a couple jerseys to take home to my children,” a Lakers fan said. ”We’re all still in shock.”
Kevin Hart also gave a tribute to Bryant.
“I just want to keep everybody in a positive, amazing place. Remember that we’re celebrating life today,” the comedian said. “If you love Kobe Bryant than today let’s put this positivity in the air.“
Following the deaths of her husband Kobe and daughter Gianna, Vanessa Bryant announced that the Mamba Sports Foundation set up a charity for the seven other victims of the helicopter crash: John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan.
The NBA announced they would be making a $100,000 donation to the foundation in partnership with the National Basketball Players Association.
O’Neal also said he would be donating the proceeds from his annual pre-Super Bowl party to the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Foundation as well as to the families of the victims.