The children trust him because of his status as a basketball icon; they relate to him because he speaks their language and has lived their lives.
Shaq attended the Boys and Girls Club across from his home in the Newark projects when he was young and his parents knew then what's still true today.
"From 3 to 6 are very dangerous hours. My father worked two jobs, my mother worked one job, and their instruction was 'to go to the Boys and Girls Club and stay there until I come pick you up,'" Shaq said.
After the school day ends Boys and Girls Clubs in Camden and across the country instill a sense of usefulness and belonging in young people.
Some of the children who utilize this club come from the adjacent Octavius Katto Community School.
When he was a boy, Shaq says he took advantage of all this place made available to him.
"The Boys and Girls Club was a place where I was able to cultivate my dreams and create the character known as Shaq," Shaq said.
"As a boys and girls club alum, he took everything they had to offer and he took it to the ultimate heights," Bernadette Shanahan, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Camden, said.
"It was really important for them to hear from someone who was at one time like they were," music teacher Sharon McGee said.
And Shaq had a final message for all of us: "The time is now, especialy for this generation. They need us and we can't turn our backs on them."