We will have to wait a year to see UCLA’s top recruit and one of the best young college basketball players in the nation, Shareef O’Neal on the basketball court. The son of Hall of Fame big man Shaquille O’Neal announced he will miss the entire season due to a severe heart ailment.
Exclusively speaking with TMZ Sports, O’Neal did not reveal precisely what the issue is but did confirm he will have major surgery that will require him missing the entire season. He did vow to return to the court as soon as possible to resume his journey to the NBA.
Per TMZ Sports:
TMZ Sports spoke with the 18-year-old superstar who said he was having a routine checkup recently when the docs “found a medical issue dealing with my heart.”
Shareef didn’t specify the exact problem — but said the issue is severe enough that he’ll be having heart surgery in the near future.
“Thank God the UCLA medical staff caught it early,” O’Neal tells us.
“During rehab, I’ll be attending my classes and being a normal student.”
“I’ll be back in no time.”
We wish Shareef a speedy recovery, his health is more important than his basketball career. O’Neal isn’t the first basketball player to face life-threatening health challenges keeping them off the hardwood. Washington Wizards forward Jeff Green, who was a member of the Boston Celtics at the time, was sidelined by an aortic aneurysm and underwent heart surgery and missed the entire 2011-12 season. Green with the help of rehab from the operation made an amazing comeback and even played in all 82 games for the Celtics during the 2012-13 season.
Hopefully, O’Neal uses Green’s story as the fuel and inspiration to come back better than ever.
Photo: Cassy Athena / Getty