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Shaquille O’Neal named by White House as sports envoy to Cuba

Shaquille O'Neal attends the BBVA Compass Rising Stars

Shaquille O'Neal attends the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2014 as part of the 2014 NBA All-Star Weekend at the Smoothie King Center on Feb. 14, 2014 in New Orleans. Credit: Getty Images / Christian Petersen

The White House says former NBA basketball player Shaquille O’Neal is heading to Cuba in June as the two nations look to sports to improve ties.

O’Neal, an outsized center and personality, is part of a program that will be focused on working with youth in Havana. The program will be the first in which the U.S. Embassy in Havana partners with the Cuban Ministry of Sports.

In November, Misty Copeland, the first African-American female principal dancer with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre, will travel to Cuba to lead dance clinics for minority youth. She will also hold workshops for coaches with a special focus on building athletic programs for girls.

New York Sports