Shareef O'Neal Has Heart Surgery to Fix Irregularity

The former top recruit and progeny of NBA royalty missed his entire freshman season at UCLA because of a heart irregularity.

Shareef O'Neal

Image via Getty/Cassy Athena

Shareef O'Neal

The sons of the famous pro athletes usually get lost in the often blinding sparkle of fame and fortune, but Shareef O'Neal had enough high school game to largely escape the phrase "the son of Shaq" from opening every basketball article about him. However, a heart irregularity derailed the beginning of his college career with UCLA, and now, he's gone under the knife to get it fixed.

O'Neal was all set to suit up this season when the heart irregularity was caught during a routine checkup. "Thank God the UCLA medical staff caught it early," he told TMZ in the fall.

"This morning was by far my toughest moment being a mom," Shareef's mom said in a statement.

"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. THAT'S 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."

O'Neal, who originally committed to Arizona before de-committing—for which he received death threats—after their head coach was caught on tape by the FBI discussing a $100K payment to a player, says he's expecting to suit up with the Bruins next season after he recovers.

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