Shaquille O'Neal and Rob Gronkowski Are Teaming Up to 'Party with a Purpose' for Social Justice
The two superstars are planning a virtual party to raise money for the NAACP and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America
The two are teaming up for "Shaq's Fun House vs. Gronk Beach," a virtual party on June 27 that will serve as a three-hour fundraiser benefiting social justice through NAACP Empowerment Programs and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
The event comes amid a time when millions of Americans are protesting systematic racism and police brutality following the May 25 death of George Floyd.
The 46-year-old died after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes, an incident that was caught on film and later went viral on social media. Additionally, these nationwide demonstrations and calls for justice have come amid a global pandemic.
"We've seen what's been going on for a long time, and I'm actually proud how the country has united to bring awareness," O'Neal, 48, tells PEOPLE of the protests.
"Now that awareness has been brought, it's time for the people that can make real change [to] get off their ass — legislators, congressmen, senators, mayors," he says. "Because they're the ones that could push it up to the next ladder and they'll get change done. Everyone's been saying the same thing. We know what's going on, but change has to be done."
That's why O'Neal and Gronkowski wanted to use their star power (and their party expertise) to raise money for social issues and provide some entertainment to those in need of it.
"Shaq and I, we just want to unite people. That's why we're throwing this event," 31-year-old Gronkowski, a tight end with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, tells PEOPLE.
"We want to bring people together," he continues. "The very first time we met, I kind of felt like that's what we did. And when we looked at each other, we kind of felt like, you know, we had the same passion, the same thoughts."
The event — which gets its name from the legendary Super Bowl parties the men have thrown in recent years — will feature a series of challenges that will have the duo trying to one-up each other in HORSE, jousting, and competitive eating. There also be musical performances from DaBaby, Snoop Dogg, Steve Aoki and Diplo (O'Neal will be DJing).
It will be as big of a party as anyone can throw during this time of social distancing, and the two athletes are excited. Partying, of course, is how they initially developed their friendship.
"When I was at his party, we literally brought the whole entire party together," Gronkowski recalls. "It didn't matter who you were, if you were in the stands or if you were in the VIP section, and that's what this whole virtual party is about, bringing people together."
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"We want to do it in a fun way because that's just our personalities," he continues. "My personality is to have fun, but get the work done, get your job done. Same with Shaq. That's why I was always a big fan of him growing up. He wasn't just dominant — he was also having a good time dancing with the Jabbawockeez, rapping, whatever he was doing."
The event will stream live for free on ShaqvsGronk.com, Facebook, Twitch, YouTube and Twitter on June 27 at 8 p.m. EST, and O'Neal and Gronkowski hope everyone joins the party.
"We're partying with a purpose. We're going to raise a ton of money, and we're going to feed a lot of families," O'Neal says. "And it's the right thing to do because sports and music have always brought people together. And Gronk and myself, we just happened to dominate both genres."
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