Shaquille O’Neil is known for his generosity and good deeds. O’Neal surprised a bunch of kids at an elementary school in Georgia with free PS5s, Nintendo Switch systems, and bicycles for 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 delivered them to underprivileged school children in Georgia.
During the podcast he said “My father was a drill sergeant, my mother just was a hard-working woman. They had little, but they taught me the value of giving back. They taught me the value of helping those in need. As long as I’m on this Earth, I’m going to try to do what I can to make sure kids get good toys.” The school in question was Wesley Lakes Elementary School and the gift-giving was part of O’Neal’s Shaq-a-Claus event, which was attended by 500 children. The game systems were among other gifts given including toys, backpacks, laptops, lunches and more. “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 are like, ‘I can relate to Shaq, he’s silly.”
It’s not the first year schools would be on the receiving end of one of Shaq’s charitable endeavors. O’Neil’s “Shaq to School” program coordinates with Amazon and Zappos to deliver school supplies every year to 5,000 children who can’t afford them. He also 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.
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. He once bought a completely new, wheelchair accessible house for the family of a 12-year old boy in Atlanta who was paralyzed by stray gunfire at a violent shootout.
He also once paid off the balance of an engagement ring after hearing about the buyer still being weeks away from paying it off. Shaq put the balance on his credit card, saying “I’m just trying to make people smile.” While O’Neal stresses the importance of giving, he once said that he doesn’t like to receive presents. “I do not accept gifts. You show me a movie where Santa receives gifts and I’ll take one.”