Why Did Darius Leonard Change His Name to Shaquille?

John Rizzo

Updated on:

Why Did Darius Leonard Change His Name to Shaquille?

Darius Leonard, the accomplished Indianapolis Colts linebacker known for his stellar NFL career, recently made headlines by embracing a new moniker – Shaquille. 

This intriguing name change reflects a deep connection to his South Carolina roots and a desire for authentic self-expression.

Beyond personal identity, the shift to Shaquille may also signify a strategic move to redefine Leonard’s brand, inspiring teammates and fans alike. 

With a multifaceted journey intertwining personal history, self-discovery, and professional aspirations, Leonard’s decision to adopt the name Shaquille adds a compelling chapter to his impactful narrative within the NFL.

Who Is Darius Leonard?

Darius Leonard is an accomplished American football linebacker, born on July 27, 1995. Selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the 2018 NFL Draft, he quickly rose to prominence as a defensive force. 

Known for his speed, tackling prowess, and leadership, Leonard has earned multiple All-Pro honors. 

His standout rookie season included leading the league in tackles. Hailing from a small town in South Carolina, Leonard overcame personal challenges, becoming not only a defensive stalwart but also a symbol of resilience. 

Beyond the gridiron, his dynamic personality and community engagement contribute to his status as a respected figure in the NFL.

Why Did Darius Leonard Change His Name to Shaquille?

Why Did Darius Leonard Change His Name to Shaquille?

Darius Leonard is a star linebacker for the Indianapolis Colts who has made a name for himself in the NFL since he was drafted in 2018. 

He has been named an All-Pro three times and led the league in tackles in his rookie season. 

However, he recently announced that he wants to be known by a different name: Shaquille. Why did Leonard decide to change his name after four years in the NFL?

Here are the reasons why Darius Leonard changed his name to Shaquille:

Honoring Roots and Family

Darius Leonard’s roots in a small town in South Carolina carry a significant weight in understanding his decision.

His upbringing involved overcoming adversity, including the heart-wrenching loss of a brother and witnessing his mother’s struggles with challenges such as addiction and poverty. 

By adopting the name Shaquille, Leonard may be paying homage to the community that provided unwavering support during these challenging times. This shift could symbolize a deep connection to his familial and community roots.

Authentic Expression of Identity

Known for his exuberant and lively personality, Leonard’s decision to embrace the name Shaquille might reflect a desire for a more authentic self-expression. 

The vibrant and energetic qualities he exhibits on and off the field could find better alignment with the name Shaquille. 

This change may signify not just a personal preference but a deliberate effort to showcase confidence and pride in his identity, resonating with fans on a more personal level.

Strategic Branding and Leadership

Beyond personal identity, the decision to adopt the name Shaquille could be a strategic move to redefine Leonard’s brand as a player and a leader within the Indianapolis Colts. 

As a defensive powerhouse, his aspirations to secure a Super Bowl victory and be recognized as the best in the league may be encapsulated in this change. 

By embracing the name Shaquille, Leonard could be making a statement about his ambitions, inspiring both teammates and coaches to rally around a renewed sense of purpose and excellence.

A Multifaceted Decision

In essence, the decision to transition to the name Shaquille represents a multifaceted journey that intertwines personal history, self-expression, and professional branding. 

Leonard, undoubtedly, hopes that this change will resonate positively with those who follow his career, fostering a deeper connection with fans and establishing a new chapter in his impact within the NFL.

Impact of Leonard’s Name Change to Shaquille on His Career

Impact of Leonard's Name Change to Shaquille on His Career

Leonard’s decision to change his name to Shaquille undoubtedly carries potential implications for his career and reputation in the NFL.

Let’s explore some of the possible impacts, both positive and negative:

Creating Confusion and Controversy

Leonard’s abrupt name change to Shaquille after four years in the NFL may spark confusion and questions about his motives and loyalty to the Colts. 

Habitual use of his former name may lead to misunderstandings, potentially generating negative publicity. 

Critics may accuse him of arrogance, drawing comparisons to other players who underwent name changes, inviting skepticism and mockery.

Enhancing Personal Brand and Image

Choosing Shaquille as his moniker distinguishes Leonard, making him more memorable and intriguing in a crowded league. 

This bold move strengthens connections with family and fans, attracting heightened media attention. 

The name change signifies confidence, ambition, and a commitment to excellence, potentially elevating his personal brand in the NFL.

Expressing Identity and Individuality

Beyond a branding tactic, Leonard’s name change authentically expresses his identity. Embracing Shaquille demonstrates personal values and pride in individuality. 

The move signals maturity, growth, and personal contentment, resonating with fans and peers. 

Unafraid to stand out, Leonard’s decision communicates a genuine connection with his goals and aspirations, potentially shaping a positive and lasting image in the NFL.

What Happened to Darius Leonard?

What Happened to Darius Leonard?

Darius Leonard is one of the best linebackers in the NFL, playing for the Indianapolis Colts since 2018. 

He has earned three Pro Bowl selections, three All-Pro honors, and the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. 

However, he has also been dealing with some injuries that have affected his performance and availability.

An Ankle Injury and Surgery

Leonard suffered an ankle injury in the 2020 season that required surgery in the offseason. He was expected to recover fully from the procedure, but he experienced some complications and setbacks that delayed his return to the field. He missed the entire OTAs and minicamp as he continued to rehab his ankle.

Back Issue and Surgery

In addition to his ankle injury, Leonard also developed a back issue that worsened over time. 

He said that it started early in the offseason and was fine at first, but it became more painful and problematic as the weeks went by.

He decided to undergo back surgery in June to fix the problem and prevent further damage.

The back surgery was successful, but it also meant that Leonard would miss some time during training camp. 

Colts head coach Frank Reich said that Leonard should be ready for the regular season, but he did not give a specific timetable for his return. 

He also praised Leonard for his work ethic and leadership, saying that he is the heart and soul of the team.

Recovery and Outlook

Leonard has been optimistic about his recovery and his outlook for the upcoming season. He said that he is feeling good and that he is eager to get back on the field and help his team win.

He also said that he wants to be recognized as the best defensive player in the league and that he has a lot of goals and aspirations to achieve.

Why Was Darius in a Coma?

There is no evidence that Darius Leonard, or Shaquille Leonard, was in a coma at any point in his life.

The web search results do not mention anything about him being in a coma, and the latest news about him are about his recovery from his ankle and back surgeries, and his name change request. 

He is expected to be ready for the regular season and to continue his stellar career as a linebacker for the Indianapolis Colts.


Is Shaquille Leonard the NFL player’s official name now?

While Darius Leonard has expressed a preference for being called Shaquille, legally, his name remains Darius Leonard. 

The name change is a personal and professional choice, but it hasn’t been legally altered.

How have fans and teammates reacted to the name change?

The response from fans and teammates has generally been positive. 

Many have embraced the change, using the name Shaquille or ‘D’ (his nickname). It appears to be a respected decision within his community.

Did Darius Leonard provide specific reasons for choosing the name Shaquille?

While Leonard cited personal and family reasons for the change, he hasn’t disclosed specific details about why he chose the name Shaquille. 

The decision likely involves a combination of honoring roots, personal identity, and professional branding.

To Recap

Darius Leonard, or Shaquille Leonard, is a star linebacker for the Indianapolis Colts who has been one of the best defensive players in the NFL since he entered the league in 2018. 

He recently announced that he wants to be called by his middle name, Shaquille, which is the name that his family and close friends have always called him. 

He said that he prefers it over Darius and that he does not mind if people still call him Darius, but he would appreciate it if they respect his choice and call him Shaquille or ‘D’ or ‘Maniac’, which is his nickname on the field. 

He changed his name for personal and professional reasons, such as honoring his family and his roots, expressing his personality and identity, and creating a new brand and image for himself.

Photo of author

John Rizzo

I am a professional rugby player in the Washington DC-Baltimore area. I have been playing rugby for over 10 years and have had the opportunity to play in many different countries. I am also a coach for both youth and adult rugby teams. I graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a degree in Sports Management and Marketing. I am currently working on my MPA from American University and plan to pursue this career path after graduating next year. LinkedIn