The Los Angeles Lakers signed undrafted rookie free agency big man Shareef O’Neal. He will play in the NBA Summer League for the Lakers.
Everything was in place for Shareef O’Neal to follow in the footsteps of Shaquille O’Neal and become an NBA player. He is a very different player from his father, and he piqued the interest of scouts in his hometown of Los Angeles.
Shareef’s combination of athleticism and shooting ability propelled him to the top of the 2018 recruiting class. He originally planned to attend Arizona but dropped out after coach Sean Miller was caught up in a scandal.
Shareef O’Neal suits up for the first time as a Laker 🌟 pic.twitter.com/hX7WBLyH7M
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 2, 2022
During his college career, he was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect affecting the coronary artery. Shareef “could’ve died from it” his mother, Shaunie O’Neal said.
Shaunie stated that her son was diagnosed with a right anomalous coronary artery. He had open-heart surgery to correct it in October. As per ESPN, Shareef was seen walking a week after surgery on the show, and Shaunie held a fundraiser for heart health.
Shareef O’Neal opens up about the heart surgery and how he dealt with it
Following open-heart surgery in December 2018, the Los Angeles native spent months recovering and relearning how to walk.
During summer practice, O’Neal informed the UCLA medical staff that he had a strange feeling in his chest after a team workout. Doctors quickly discovered that he had a right anomalous coronary artery, which necessitated surgery.
Because of his condition, he was forced to take a medical redshirt for the 2018-19 season. But O’Neal considers himself fortunate that his losses were not more severe.
“He was born with it.” He could have died as a result of it. They informed us that Shareef required open-heart surgery. That broke my heart.” said Shaunie.
The story of O’Neal’s return to the court was incredible.
What happened next, however, did not feel like a fairytale.
It took O’Neal seven months to regain full health and breathe fresh life into UCLA. The 6-foot-9 forward was medically allowed to return to professional basketball after months of therapy. He chose to compete in the Drew League.
After becoming an undrafted free agent, O’Neal agreed to for the Lakers just like his father did. Following a major setback early on, Shareef is set to embark on a similar journey to his father.