“Shaq-a-Claus” donates holiday gifts to Henry County elementary students

HENRY COUNTY, Ga. — Santa Claus has many stops to make this week, but luckily he received help from a NBA legend in metro Atlanta on Monday.

Shaquille O’Neal hosted his annual “Shaq-a-Claus” event to spread holiday cheer.

Channel 2 Action News was at Wesley Lakes Elementary School in Henry County as kids lined up to get high-fives and brand new toys from O’Neal.

The NBA Hall of Famer told Channel 2 that he loves to mix it up every now and then with his surprises for students.

“I just want them to be happy. They don’t have to know I’m a basketball player. ” O’Neal said. “I’m at the point now where they can call me Uncle Shaq. I speak their language and know how school can be.“

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O’Neal has hosted the event every year since 1997 to hand out toys, clothes and school supplies to kids in need.

The NBA legend said his mother was the inspiration for giving back.

“The great Dr. Lucille O’Neal, who happens to be my mother, always said if I can help those in need, do it,” O’Neal said. “For me, it’s a better feeling having her smile. Better than any commercial I’ve done. Better than any deal that I’ve done.”

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This year, O’Neal has held events in Los Angeles, New Jersey, Compton and Orlando. To O’Neal, there’s nothing better than leaving a lasting impression on the students.

“There are three ways to capture the mind: what you read, what you hear, what you see. I want them to see a guy that people call a superstar is just like them,” he said. “At the high school level, I’ll give them a little more information to be a leader, stay out of trouble, never give up. But for kids, especially elementary, it’s about being friendly.”

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