Shareef O’Neal, son of NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille, appears to be doing well after undergoing heart surgery Thursday.
The 18-year-old UCLA freshman underwent the procedure to fix an irregularity with his heart. During a summer practice, O’Neal said he “felt funny,” after which doctors discovered the condition. O’Neal will miss the entire 2018-19 season with a medical redshirt and plans to return to basketball next year.
After undergoing the surgery early Thursday, Shareef’s sister Mimi posted a picture to his Twitter account showing all was well:
I made it,Thank you for all the love and support! I really appreciate all your thoughts and prayers, that’s what helped me through this surgery. I’m on the road to recovery, and I’ll be back soon…better than ever.
His Words, typed by Mimi oneal ❤️ pic.twitter.com/yPu2js7M2f
— Shareef O’Neal (@SSJreef) December 14, 2018
O’Neal’s surgery is expect to fully correct the electrical issue with his heart, although it’s obviously a scary procedure. His mother, Shaunie, was also with him at the surgery and posted a supportive message to Instagram:
This morning was by far my toughest moment being a Mom. If only I could take his place today. Could I at least go with him in that operating room and hold his hand. Separating from him as he was wheeled off to surgery was heartbreaking. THATS MY BABY! I don’t care how old, how big, how grown my kids get I still want to protect them. I had no control over any of this. But there is a God, I trust and believe He is in there with my baby right now and has complete control. #prayforreef 🙏🏽❤️ @shareefoneal #mybaby
A post shared by Shaunie O'Neal (@shaunieoneal5) on Dec 13, 2018 at 9:02am PST
The 6-foot-9 forward was one of five top-100 recruits for UCLA last season, with O’Neal slotting in at No. 40 overall. The Bruins’ No. 5-ranked recruiting class helped them start the year with a preseason rank of No. 21, although they have since fallen out of the AP Top 25.
Since the surgery, several people in the basketball world have reached out in support of O’Neal, including UCLA women’s basketball coach Cori Close, Miami Heat players Bam Adebayo and Dwyane Wade, and Washington Wizards guard Austin Rivers.
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