Shaq & Shaunie O’Neal’s Son, Shareef, Reveals He Was ‘Terrified’ To Play Basketball Again After Having Open Heart Surgery

Shaq, Shaunie, & Shareef O’Neal

Shaq & Shaunie O’Neal’s Son, Shareef, Reveals He Was ‘Terrified’ To Play Basketball Again After Having Open Heart Surgery

Shareef O’Neal, son of basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal and Shaunie O’Neal, is opening up about life post open heart surgery.

While visiting Lebron James’ talk show series The Shop: Uninterrupted, Shareef O’Neal, 22, discussed the physical and mental rehab process after having the intense procedure. Back in 2018, the LSU alum announced he’d be sitting out his first NCAA basketball season after doctors discovered a “medical issue” that required heart surgery. Shareef planned to return for the 2019 season but underwent more extensive rehabbing than initially planned.

During the interview, Shereef recalled his rehabilitation process, stating:

“I couldn’t lift my arms up past my shoulders for like, seven months. Couldn’t carry anything over seven pounds for like five months. And it took like a year and half for it to get healed,”

He continued:

“I couldn’t touch a basketball…I couldn’t even, watch practice it would make me so mad….I had to stop going to the games I was just so hurt. It was more of a mental thing for me at that point.”

Former Lakers giant Metta Sandiford-Artest also appeared on The Shop episode. The retired basketball star shared his anxieties around playing again after serious surgery, which Shareef quickly related to. He stated:

“You know I was scared to come back and play basketball,”

Shareef O’Neal

Then continued:

“That first time I came back, I was terrified.”

At the time of the surgery, Shareef’s mother, Basketball Wives creator and star Shaunie O’Neal, also feared for her son’s life. The reality personality took to Instagram shortly after her son’s successful surgery to air out her emotions. Shaunie wrote:

“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”

Shareef O’Neal, Shaunie O’Neal

Despite the challenging time, Shareef says he’s taken the time to fully recover both mentally and physically from the procedure. He stated:

“I had to get over it mentally for the first few months…I went to the Combine and they made me do a stress test…I did that got it out the way….I was like I’m go have to show everybody I want this.”

We are wishing Shareef the best of luck with his basketball journey as he enters the 2022 NBA draft pick, airing later tonight (June 23rd).

Can you relate to Shareef’s fears post-serious surgery? Tell us in the comments section.

Authored by: Kay Johnson