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Shaquille O'Neal's Son Shareef Makes Long-Awaited Return to UCLA Basketball after Heart Surgery

Mary Scott
Nov 12, 2019
11:20 A.M.
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Shaquille O'Neal’s son, Shareef, has made his long-awaited return to the UCLA men’s basketball team after undergoing heart surgery last year. The teenager also confirmed that "everything is one hundred percent."

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Shareef, 19, took about a year off from the UCLA Bruins after the team's medical staff detected a heart defect and advised open heart surgery. Now, he couldn’t be happier to be back doing what he loves.

(L-R) Shaquille O'Neal, Shareef O'Neal & Shaunie O'Neal at the Jordan Brand Future of Flight Showcase on Jan. 25, 2018 in California | Photo: Getty Images

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The first son of basketball legend Shaquille spoke to reporters during a pre-practice interview last Monday and confessed that he'd been "waiting for this for a very long time."

"I know people probably have a lot of questions in their head after the surgery, but it’s not something that bothers me. I don’t worry about it when I play."

According to the Los Angeles Times, Shareef played in the Drew League this summer and also during UCLA's exhibition match against Stanislaus State. Still, he was looking forward to his performance in the season opener game against Long Beach State.

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During his Monday interview, Shareef revealed that his famous family would be present at the much-anticipated Wednesday game:

"I have my whole family coming. I’m pretty sure my dad, my mom, both sides of the family are going to come down and watch me play because, like I said, we’ve all been waiting for this moment for a really long time."

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The 6 feet 9 and 220 pounds Power Forward added that, while he used to be distracted by Shaquille’s presence at his games, now "it’s all business."

"He kind of lets me do my own thing," Shareef said of his dad. "Our games aren’t really that similar, so I feel like it’s not a big distraction anymore."

Per the LA Times, Shareef has a post-surgery scar running down his chest and wears a device that monitors his heart for research during practice.

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According to the player, however, he's all good otherwise and ready to hit the court:

"I know people probably have a lot of questions in their head after the surgery, but it’s not something that bothers me. I don’t worry about it when I play; I just go out there and play my game... Everything is one hundred percent."

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Per BCK Online, Shareef made his big debut during Wednesday’s on-court battle against Long Beach State. The game ended in a 69-65 victory for Bruins, and Shareef played six minutes, scoring three rebounds and a steal.

Shareef's Wednesday game came months after the rising basketball star announced that he had been medically cleared to return to the court.

Shareef is the first child of Shaquille and his ex-wife, "Basketball Wives" star Shaunie O’Neal. The exes also share son Shaqir, 16, and daughters Amirah, 17, and Me'Arah, 13.

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