Demonstrates Excellence on the Field
A six-year starter, Panthers Linebacker Shaq Thompson was selected by his teammates as a team captain for the 2020 season. He also serves as the team's NFLPA representative. Currently, he is second in tackles for the Panthers defensive unit and is on pace for his second consecutive season of 100+ tackles.
Demonstrates Dedication and Commitment to Community Efforts this Year
Shaq has emerged as a leader of the Carolina Panthers in his sixth season with the team and has carried that leadership role into serving Charlotte, NC and Sacramento, CA - communities that are important to him. Naturally reserved, Shaq has stepped into the forefront with the nation experiencing issues ranging from a global pandemic to social justice issues. "I'm doing it from my heart," Thompson said. "If you know me, you know I don't like a lot of lights on me," said Thompson. "I want to step up as a leader — let my voice be heard and my face be shown," he added.
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Shaq was quick to respond with a personal uplift to stretched-thin frontline healthcare workers by donating 2,000 meals to hospital workers. That effort was matched for families in unstable housing as he provided dinner twice per week throughout the summer for displaced, low-income families struggling with temporary living conditions in motels. "I live here, I love it here," Thompson said. "I care about this community. I care about people. I want them to see that and know that."
Shaq also stepped forward during the social unrest that has gripped the country in the wake of heightened awareness of police brutality. Thompson led a player contingent that met with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney to discuss bridge building between the police and community, as well as difficult conversations regarding police accountability. He also led other players in participating in community peaceful protests to call further attention to his efforts in creating dialogue and response.
Shaq and Panthers running back Christian McCaffery teamed up to address opportunity access challenges for at-risk youth with the 22 and 54 Together program, which is providing $50,000 to cover Police Activities League (PAL) and Boys & Girls Club program fees for low-income youth. "This is exactly what our community needs right now. Something positive, uniting our community and police with a focus on kids who will be left behind and will suffer most if we don't come together."
He continued his on-going support of football played at the grassroots level by providing $25,000 in new equipment and uniforms for his high school alma mater, Grant Union High School in Sacramento, CA.
In addition, the Thompson Legacy Fund (TLF) was recently established as a way to memorialize the greater good Shaq's mother, Patty Thompson, always did for her community and her sons. TLF services low-income students in the Sacramento and Charlotte communities and focuses on mentorship, character development, and dental hygiene. TLF's main focus is developing the leaders of tomorrow with the confidence and situational awareness to be successful in any field.
Currently, Shaq is looking forward to announcing his new project with the Charlotte community. He is partnering with a local dentist and the Boys & Girls club to provide 100 kids with free dental cleanings as well as braces or related needs that are assessed during the dental treatments.
Demonstrates Dedication and Commitment to Community Efforts in Years Past
Prior to this season, Shaq had been an active participant in a variety of team efforts that have supported youth football, police and community relations and providing resources for low-income families. Since its inception in 2018, he has been a supporter of the team's Player Impact Committee which addresses a variety of social justice-related efforts.
Demonstrates Consistency in Positive Character and Models a Lifestyle of Giving Back
Thompson is a committed father to his two children and a man whose morals were shaped by his late mother Patty Thompson. "My mom was always big into giving back and taking care of people. I think that's one trait that I took from her before she passed," Thompson said. "She was loving and giving, which is a trait I strive to carry forward."