Some people donate to charity to give back to the communities they grew up in, and others because they want to help someone out of a similar situation they were in. In the case of Shareef O’Neal (son of four-time NBA champion and Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal) it is the latter, as he recently revealed that he wants to help young athletes test for heart issues before they start participating in sports.


In September 2018, doctors discovered that O’Neal, a forward for UCLA’s basketball team, had a heart defect, which required surgery to fix. In December 2018, O’Neal underwent the heart surgery and missed his entire freshman season with UCLA as he recovered. He made a full recovery and although he is not a starter, O’Neal has played in 10 games with UCLA so far, averaging 2.5 points and 3.1 rebounds. A year after the surgery, O’Neal wrote a post on Instagram reflecting on his experience, saying; “a year ago today I was scared for my life… I thought I was going through hell while dealing with this process but then I realized it was a blessing that it was found.”

Over a year since his life-changing surgery, O’Neal now says that he wants to help young athletes with heart issues, writing on Twitter: “When I get older I’m going to do a lot with heart research and find ways to create a system for HS and college athletes to get their hearts checked before participating in sports, I’ve gotten a lot of messages from young athletes who are dealing with heart issues and it’s sad”. For O’Neal, his heart defect was not discovered until he arrived at UCLA, which caused him to miss his entire freshman season, so O’Neal looks to help young athletes discover serious heart issues even earlier, so hopefully they will not have to go through a traumatic experience like he did.


Kotey Ashie

Kotey Ashie

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