The NBA has named Cleveland Cavaliers center Shaquille O'Neal as the recipient of the NBA Cares Community Assist Award for November in recognition of his outstanding efforts in the community and for his ongoing philanthropic and charitable work.
Shaq is being honored for his ongoing commitment to helping children and families in need across the country. Most recently, in an effort to bring holiday cheer to kids this season, he became the spokesman for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program. His yearly visits to Toys "R" Us stores on Christmas Eve to purchase toys for kids in need inspired the partnership. To tip off the season's toy drive, Shaq hosted his annual "Shaq-A-Claus" event at a Cleveland Toys "R" Us store, where he encouraged shoppers to join in his efforts.
"I'm really just a big kid myself, and I can't imagine a child going without a toy to unwrap during the holidays," Shaq said. "Toys are magical for kids. My life was transformed one Christmas morning when, as a boy, I received an autographed Dr. J basketball. With millions of children living in poverty in this country, I urge everyone to 'Join Shaq Give Back' this holiday season."
Shaq continued his efforts to make the holidays bright for kids in need by inviting 13-year-old Make-A-Wish youngster, Ryan Wilson, and his family to a Cavaliers' game. After the game, he and his number one fan spent some quality time together. Shaq also partnered with nonprofit organization Feed the Children to host "Shaqsgiving," during which he provided 400 Cleveland-area families with much-needed food and personal care items. In addition, after hearing about the tragic death of a five-year-old girl from Fayetteville, N.C., Shaniya Davis, Shaq reached out to her family and offered to assist them with the funeral costs.
Shaq is also a big supporter of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA). As a BGCA alum, he understands first hand the enormous positive impact that the organization's programs and activities have on young people. In 1998, Shaq pledged $1 million to help build technology centers in clubs across the country. He also collaborated with BGCA and Microsoft to create an online safety program for kids. Today, Shaq's legacy has grown to include more than 2,000 technology centers in Boys & Girls Clubs, which have produced thousands of tech-savvy young people.
As the November NBA Cares Community Assist Award recipient, Shaq will receive the David Robinson Plaque with the inscription, "Following the standard set by NBA Legend David Robinson who improved the community piece by piece." In addition, a $5,000 donation will be given by the NBA to Shaq's charity of choice.
The league presents the NBA Cares Community Assist Award monthly to recognize players for their charitable efforts. The award honors the NBA player who best reflects the passion that the league and its players have for giving back to their communities.