Shaquille O'Neal Surprises Students on Video Chat to Reveal They're Getting New Sports Court

Shaquille O'Neal just put a smile on a lot of budding athletes' faces.

The retired NBA star just teamed up with Kellogg's Mission Tiger, a campaign to help save and improve middle school sports nationwide, to surprise some Philadelphia students with everything they need to succeed in extracurricular athletics.

"Wherever you can help kids and keep them on the right paths, it's just the right thing to do," O'Neal, 48, tells PEOPLE exclusively. He adds, "This is great for kids and great for sports."

Last weekend — joined by Candace Parker and Tony the Tiger — O'Neal surprised players and coaches from Young Scholars Charter School on a video conference call. O'Neal and Parker shared tips with the rising young athletes and also broke the news that the Mission Tiger donation would include a new sports court for the school, which currently has no on-site facilities.

The Pennsylvania students will also get new uniforms and equipment, as well as the cost of facility fees to avoid canceled games or even entire seasons of league play.

For every Kellogg's Frosted Flakes box purchased, a $1 donation is sparked by uploading a receipt to Kellogg's Family Rewards via MissionTiger.com.

"They don't have a lot of resources," O'Neal explains of the Young Scholars student-athletes. "But they have an amazing coach there who believes in the power of sports. And they were able to start basketball, track and field, volleyball, cheerleading, soccer teams."

He continues, "We want to do all that we can to ensure that they have the funding they need and they help keep these kids out of trouble. Because I know for a fact, I've got six kids, and you don't give them sports and they go straight to the phone."


The sports analyst also opens up about the "uncertainty" of the NBA season's return after it was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"I'm a firm believer in better safe than sorry," he tells PEOPLE. "[NBA Commissioner] Adam Silver said, 'Do you know what? I'm concerned about the safety of our players and our fans. So not just trying to rush and come back.' "

He adds, "Because again when you're an athlete, whoever comes back this year, in this way, it's going to be an asterisk by the championship. As a player, you don't want it. And then they're saying they're going to come back and play without fans. I would perform terribly. If I walk in there and de-rail, I couldn't get motivated at all."

Most importantly O'Neal says, "I would like the league to remain safe, and for everybody to remain safe."

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