UCLA men’s basketball player Shareef O’Neal revealed on Friday that he will not participate during his freshman season because of a heart issue that will require surgery.
O’Neal is the eldest son of former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal and Basketball Wives executive producer Shaunie O’Neal. In a video interview with TMZ, the 18-year-old said the heart ailment was discovered by the university’s doctors. Although he must undergo surgery the condition is not expected to be career ending.
“Recently I found out I had a serious heart issue,” Shareef wrote on Instagram. “I am very blessed to be here living today, one of those moments on the court could’ve been my last breathe .. I will not be able to participate in sports this year but I will be back in no time .”
He continued, “I want to thank god for looking out for me , I want to thank UCLA , my teammates and most importantly my family … this is just a small bump on the road and I gotta push through it .. I am very down about not being able to do sport I love .. I really wanted this year I felt like I was at my best but this is just a minor setback.. my health is most important over everything.”
The Division I team confirmed the news and stated that the freshman will be placed on a medical redshirt season. “”The UCLA men’s basketball program completely supports Shareef and his family as he gets this issue resolved,” a spokesperson for the team said in a statement.
Shareef will remain enrolled at UCLA for the 2018-19 academic year. “During rehab, I’ll be attending my classes and being a normal student.”