Shaq's son Shareef O'Neal to miss first season at UCLA for heart surgery

Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for AppleShareef O’Neal—a highly-anticipated recruit and the eldest son of NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal—will miss his first season at UCLA to undergo heart surgery.
  • Shareef O’Neal-a four-star recruit and son of NBA legend Shaq-was slated to play his first season with the UCLA Bruins this year.
  • During summer practices at UCLA, doctors discovered that O’Neal would need surgery to address a heart condition.
  • The 6-foot-10 power forward will take a medical redshirt and expects to make his debut for the Bruins during the 2019-20 season.

There is a lot of hype surrounding NBA stars’ kids and their future basketball careers. LeBron James Jr. reportedly had scholarship offers from Duke and Kentucky at 11 years old, while Dwayne Wade’s son Zaire shined while playing against NBA stars this summer.

Shareef O’Neal-a four-star recruit and the son of Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal-was slated to play his first season with the UCLA Bruins this year, but according to a TMZ report, he will redshirt his freshman season due to a recently-discovered heart condition.

During summer practices at UCLA, O’Neal said he reported feeling “funny” at practice. Doctors then gave the 6-foot-10 power forward a heart monitor to wear and attached button that he pressed when he was not feeling well. A few weeks later, doctors told him that he would need surgery.

“Thank God UCLA medical staff found it early, but because of this I will not be playing this season, and I will be a medical redshirt,” O’Neal said in a video released by TMZ. “I know it’s an injury that requires surgery, so I’ll be having heart surgery, and I’ll be out a couple months, and after that, I’ll be back.”

According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, O’Neal did not disclose his specific diagnosis but revealed that he would be inactive for three to four months after undergoing surgery.

“A lot of people are asking if it’s career-ending,” O’Neal said. “The answer is absolutely not. Just a little bump in the road. … During my rehab, I’ll be attending my classes and being a normal student.”

O’Neal led Santa Monica Crossroads High to a state championship last year and was widely considered one of the top high school players in the country. He initially committed to play for the Arizona Wildcats but decided on UCLA after head coach Sean Miller’s program was rocked by a corruption scandal.

The Bruins have committed to support O’Neal through his recovery:

Check out the full TMZ video featuring O’Neal below:

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