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#pounditThursday, September 29, 2022

Darius Leonard clarifies reason for name change

Darius Leonard with his mouth open.

Dec 6, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Darius Leonard (53) reacts after the game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard revealed that he wants to be called a different name going forward, and further explained via social media his reasoning behind the change.

Leonard told reporters on Tuesday that he will go by “Shaquille,” which is his middle name and what his family calls him. Leonard said that he was only referred to as “Darius” during school or when he got in trouble.

The 26-year-old shared further clarification for his decision in a tweet on Tuesday afternoon.

“I went by Shaquille my whole life and I understand that it’ll be a hard change to be called Shaquille after being called Darius for 4 years,” Leonard wrote. “It’s not a huge deal and it wouldn’t be no hard feelings if you called me Darius. Shaquille is my middle name that I’ve went by since ’95.”

Leonard also told reporters that he never wanted to correct anyone regarding his name early on in his career due to the advice of one Hall of Famer.

Leonard had 122 total tackles, four interceptions and eight forced fumbles in 16 games last season. In four seasons with the Colts, he has been a first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowler three times, and won the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year Award in 2018.

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