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Shaquille O’Neal Gives Back With His Star-Studded Las Vegas Event

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at October 4, 2021

He may have retired from the NBA 10 years ago following a celebrated 19-season career including four championship title victories, but Shaquille O’Neal still finds ways to score big today for the many generations that look up to him, literally and figuratively.

The 7’1” businessman, philanthropist, actor, rapper, and television personality gave back in a major way this past Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas with his first annual fundraiser. Hosted and benefiting The Shaquille O’Neal Foundation, “The Event Presented by Pepsi Stronger Together” brought some of the biggest acts in music today onto one stage, all for a worthy cause.

“My foundation was created in 2019 to provide resources and opportunities to kids in need,” Shaq tells me at Forbes. “I partner with two organizations that are close to my heart, Boys & Girls Club and Communities in Schools. We also focus on two cities – Las Vegas and Atlanta.”

In front of a fully vaccinated crowd of generous and enthusiastic supporters, the evening’s concert kicked off with an electrifying performance by Imagine Dragons with their hit songs like “Believer” and “Radioactive,” followed by the vocal delights of Andra Day with her empowering anthem “Rise Up” and music from her Golden Globe winning performance earlier this year in The United States vs. Billie Holiday.

Kelly Clarkson energized attendees by performing a few of her most popular sing-a-long hits, including a very playful rendition of “Since U Been Gone” alongside Shaq. The arena took on another level of excitement when Justin Bieber made it to the stage, performing several of his more recent hit songs including “Anyone” and “Peaches” as he passionately moved around the stage. Snoop Dogg concluded the night with his captivating stage presence, even having Shaq join him in a rap to “Nuthin’ But A G Thang.”

When I asked Shaq what it means to him to have such an impressive line-up of artists on-stage to help raise funds in support his foundation’s mission, he said, “The fact that they think well of me enough to do this for me is just an honor.”

From the evening’s various levels of ticket sales to the winning bids from impressive live auctions items, the event raised over $2.7 million for Boys & Girls Club and Communities in Schools.

Giving back is nothing new for Shaq, as he has made it a point as far back as the start of his NBA career to be charitable towards others, following his own good fortune. “I’ve always given back, ever since 1992. I spent over half a million dollars on toys and we named that Shaq-A-Claus. I did that for the first 15 years by myself and then the last couple years, teamed up with Toys ‘R’ Us. I’ve always been the guy to willingly help another person that needs it.”

The damaging effects of these unprecedented times our world has experienced over the past year and a half is also something not lost on this philanthropic gentle giant. “It hurt my heart last summer, 40 million people laid off because of Covid,” Shaq continues. “That just hurt my heart. I take pride in being the guy that when you see his face, when you see him in-person – nice, respectful, makes you laugh, makes you feel good.”

Sure, Shaq is no longer running down the basketball court in front of his adoring fans, but he continues to be a prominent public figure in the world today through his many television spokesperson roles, sports analyst work, and business owning pursuits. Even with all of the fame and the massive amount of attention he still receives on a daily basis, Shaq refuses to be characterized by one specific title.

“I denounce myself as a celebrity. I don’t want to be bragging about doing this and doing that and disrespecting people. Ever since I first came into the league, I’ve always been a true believer of just because I’m more famous than you and make more money and have more materialistic things than you does not make me a better person than you.”

Being a devoted father to three daughters and three sons ranging in ages between 15 and 25, Shaq strives to instill similar values in his own kids, motivating them to succeed and grow best by paving their own hard-earned paths and not allowing them to rest on the wealth that he has built for his family.

“I keep it real with them. In order to touch daddy’s cheese, you have to have two or three degrees. That’s just the law in my house. I believe in respectable nepotism. The main thing is just always try to lead by example.”

In a few short months, Shaq will have another special event to look forward to, as he will celebrate his 50th Birthday on March 6. As we wrapped up our conversation, I asked Shaq what are his greatest priorities in life with this new decade for him on the horizon. “Just health, trying to continue to find the fountain of youth, just continue helping those in need, and just continue being a nice, respectful person.”


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