The always generous Shaquille O’Neil turned into Shaq-a-Claus in December to shower low-income students with gifts this Christmas.
The basketball star revealed on a podcast with Gary Vaynerchuk that he had bought 1,000 Playstation 5s, another 1,000 Nintendo Switches, and an unspecified number of bicycles and and delivered them to school children in Georgia.
“My father was a drill sergeant, my mother just was a hard-working woman,” he said on air. “They had little, but they taught me the value of giving back. They taught me the value of helping those in need.”
“I ordered about 1000 Switches and 1000 PS5s. I went to Walmart and got bikes. So you know yesterday, at this little elementary school in McDonough, Georgia, kids were crying, kids were happy. And that’s what it’s all about,” said Santa Shaq.
He joined representatives from Tonka, ‘Pepsi Stronger Together’, and others to rain down gifts and cheer to schools in Las Vegas, where the Shaquille O’Neal Foundation provided toys, laptops, and lunch for even more children—as well as opening a brand-new basketball court where kids can try on Shaq’s shoes for fun.
Shaq-a-Claus brought the holiday spirit to children at Wesley Lake Elementary School in McDonough, GA! 🎁 @SHAQ joined us for the event which featured donations from @pepsi, @Fritolay, Tonka and many more.#PepsiStrongerTogether pic.twitter.com/dJS0NB49T0
— Pepsi Stronger Together (@PepsiStronger) December 27, 2021
It’s not the first year schools would be on the receiving end of a charitable Shaq-attack, as O’Neil’s “Shaq to School” program coordinates with Amazon and Zappos to delivery school supplies every year to 5,000 children who can’t afford them.
“Kids gravitate to me because I am the simple gateway,” he said in a recent mini-doc about his giving tendencies. “When kids see me they was like, ‘I can relate to Shaq, he’s silly.’”
The gentle giant
Shaquille O’Neil is a walking bundle of good deeds waiting to slam dunk on unsuspecting people. Like the most diligent sports reporter, GNN has closely followed Shaq’s career—of giving.
After overhearing a young man was still after weeks of work, far away from paying the outstanding balance on his wife’s engagement ring, Shaq put the balance on his credit card, saying “I’m just trying to make people smile.”
In 2020 he stopped on the side of the road to help a Florida woman whose car had just crashed. The family of a 12-year old boy in Atlanta who was paralyzed by stray gunfire at a violent shootout, received a shock when Shaq bought them an entirely-new wheelchair accessible house, which we can only assume they called the “Shaq Shack”.
When Shaq was in school himself, and unable to fit into most sneakers, a cobbler who specialized in large shoes gave the boy a free pair. Doug the Cobbler has since been repaid by that single loss of revenue many times, with Shaq buying over 2,000 pairs of shoes—both for himself and for donating to kids who have the same problem as he once did.
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