NBA Star Shaquille O'Neal's Son, Shareef, Is Set to Make a Full Comeback at UCLA after Heart Surgery

Maria Varela
Sep 06, 2019
04:40 P.M.
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Shareef O'Neal is showing signs of an impressive comeback after sitting out a whole year of basketball to attend to his heart condition. The 19-year-old son of Shareef O'Neal just recently recovered from heart surgery.

He may have missed a whole year of basketball due to heart surgery but Shareef O’Neal is back and is stronger than ever. 

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AN IMPRESSIVE COMEBACK

Shareef impressed Duke-bound Cassius Stanley a few weeks ago when the recovering 19-year-old son of Shaquille O’Neal managed to dunk a shot in the midst of towering men guarding him. 

“I was just like, ‘Wow’,” Cassius said of Shareef as he watched from the concession stand at the Drew League in Southern California. “He’s already got his strength back and everything. He looks stronger and healthier,” he describes.

"I didn’t announce that I was playing or anything. I just showed up and then people started following along.”

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Flaunting a giant scar that runs down his chest from his critical surgery in December, Shareef is now raring to take on action on the hardcourt. Now going by the nickname, Zipper Boy due to his scar, Shareef admits to the Los Angeles Times that he’s “still not 100%” but he feels “really good.” 

"I was just trying to get my run and my wind back to see how I felt. I felt really good. I felt like a whole new player."

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FEELING "WEIRD" ON HIS FIRST POST-SURGERY GAME

Shareef’s first game following surgery was with the Drew League which mixes professional players with high school, college, and street players. 

“I was itching to get back after my surgery, so the Drew League was the first thing that came [up],” the six-foot-nine forward said. “I feel good playing in the Drew League. It’s fun playing here. I didn’t announce that I was playing or anything. I just showed up and then people started following along.”

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Shareef reveals his arrival at King Drew Magnet High in his hometown Los Angeles for his first game in June was special.

“I feel like if you’re an L.A. basketball player you have to come to the Drew League and kind of just get that respect in house,” he said

He also recalls feeling “weird” during that first game.

“I felt new to the sport. I had like a cool 10 points. I was just trying to get my run and my wind back to see how I felt. I felt really good. I felt like a whole new player. I could definitely feel the difference from my last high school game to my first Drew League game. I felt stronger, better. I felt like my breathing was better.”

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“As a person, he’s just a tremendous kid. He’s humble, he’s got a good heart and he’s just a great guy.”

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THE PROBLEM WITH HIS HEART

Shareef sat out his freshman year in UCLA to treat a critical heart condition that was discovered while he was training during the summer of 2018. Doctors diagnosed an unusual issue with his heart which was not detailed in the news. It required surgery which he obtained in December. 

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BOUNCING BACK

Now back on his feet, Shareef has started training with his college team. New Bruins coach Mick Cronin who facilitated his training that began in the spring observed, “As a person, he’s just a tremendous kid. He’s humble, he’s got a good heart and he’s just a great guy.”

He also says that though Shareef needs to work on his upper-body strength, he “moves like a player” and has “a good feel for the game.”

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INSPIRED BY HIS FATHER

Meanwhile, Shareef’s father whose image is now tattooed on his son’s calf must be looking forward to watching his boy in the sidelines soon. He is an avid supporter of his son who likewise looks up to him. Shareef once revealed wanting to follow into Shaq’s footsteps by playing for the Lakers someday. 

Shareef has some tough shoes to fill if he intends to be like his father but we’re certain with Shaq’s genes running in his blood and with his new lease on life, it’s not an impossibility.

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