When your dad is legendary basketball player Shaquille O’Neal, you’re bound to inherit at least some of his love for the sport. And Shareef O’Neal quickly became a star of his own on the court.
Soon after signing on to become a UCLA Bruin, Shareef faced one of the scariest moments of his life. As a college freshman, he was ready to show the world that he was ready to carry on the O’Neal legacy when doctors discovered something was wrong with the teenager’s heart.
Shareef’s mother, Shaunie O’Neal, is one of the stars, producers, and creators of VH1’s Basketball Wives and during an episode that aired in 2019, she explained that had the doctors not caught Shareef’s heart defect when they did, he could have died.
Shareef was diagnosed with a right anomalous coronary artery and as a result, he had to undergo heart surgery and take a year away from the basketball court. In December 2018, the teen athlete went under the knife.
“[It’s] an artery that just grows in the wrong place,” Shaunie said on the show, according to ESPN. “He was born with it. He could’ve died from it. They let us know Shareef needed open-heart surgery. That made my heart break.”
Thankfully, the surgery went well, Shareef recovered, and eventually made his way back to the basketball court. Now, two years later, he is reminiscing on that part of his life and created a Tik Tok about his journey.
In the video, Shareef is seen still in the hospital relearning how to walk with his dad and his mom by his side. He admitted at one point that during his recovery he “kept telling his mama he couldn’t do it.”
But he did. And “after a year of sitting and trying to learn how to adjust to my body,” he’s now “1000% healthy.”
The college basketball star said he will “going into [more] detail soon” about “my heart story.”
Rough-housing with dad!
He has big goals set for himself!
The determination is real!
How amazing is that!
Sara Vallone has been a writer and editor for the last four and a half years. A graduate of Ohio University, she enjoys celebrity news, sports, and articles that enhance people’s lives.
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