"Shaq-A-Claus" comes to town - NBC40.net

"Shaq-A-Claus" comes to town

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ATLANTIC CITY -

Basketball star Shaquille O'Neal, also known as Shaq-A-Claus, came to town today to spread some holiday cheer and positive messages to families at the Pennsylvania Avenue School in Atlantic City.

The event was organized by Mayor Langford and his wife Nynell in observance of Child Memorial Day after the death of their daughter Mariah.

"Because of my personal experience and losing a child, this gave me the opportunity to just kind of do something I can't do anymore for my daughter. So it has been a thrill, I loved shopping, it has been therapeutic and at the same time I'm helping some families," said Nynell Langford.

The afternoon included donated food, dance team performances and of course an appearance from the big man himself.

Shaq helped pass out presents and pose for pictures with close to 100 families all while doing his part to spread a positive message.

"Hopefully if I talk to 100 kids today, if I can get at least half to change their path and start doing things positive and stay out of trouble, the world will be a better place," said O'Neal.

Shaq says Mayor Langford and his wife deserve all the credit for the event.

A native of Newark, Shaq says he felt the need to help children affected by Hurricane Sandy, especially in neighborhoods similar to the one he grew up in.

"It makes me feel pretty good cause I was once them," said O'Neal.

"I just try to give them my blueprint, my blueprint has always been very simple, listen to your parents, believe in God, listen to your teachers and be a leader not a follower."

And while Shaq-A-Claus may be a little taller than your average Santa, nothing compares to the big smiles on the faces of all the kids in attendance.

"It's a great experience. I'm glad that I was able to, with him, bring this to the city of Atlantic City and hopefully we'll make a difference," said Langford.

Langford hopes to continue this event in the years to come.

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