Shareef O’Neal is going to miss the 2018-19 basketball season at UCLA. Shaquille and Shaunie O’Neal’s son is set to undergo heart surgery to correct a heart condition that was discovered by UCLA doctors. For that, Shareef credits them for saving his life.
Over the summer, Shareef was fitted with a heart monitor after telling team doctors that he was feeling funny during practice. Shareef told TMZ Sports that he was to push a button any time he wanted to let doctors know that he wasn’t feeling well.
Recently, Shareef O’Neal pushed the button and during a health check, it was discovered that he has something wrong with his heart. The discovery means O’Neal will be having surgery soon and will require a lengthy recovery.
As a result, he won’t be able to play basketball next season and instead, he’ll be listed as a medical redshirt, a medical hardship exemption for players with medical issues that require them to sit out the entire season.
UCLA issued a statement regarding Shareef O’Neal’s status, the only one they will make about his heart condition and status on the basketball team.
“Freshman Shareef O’Neal will be sidelined for the 2018-19 season (medical),” the school said in a statement. “He will remain enrolled in class and on the men’s basketball team during this redshirt year. The UCLA men’s basketball program completely supports Shareef and his family as he gets this issue resolved.”
This is a big deal considering the excitement of having Shareef O’Neal play. He originally committed to Arizona but after a pay-to-play controversy with another player, switched his commitment to UCLA, where he intends to begin his college basketball career next season after he recovers.
Shareef issued a video shared by TMZ where he spoke about the heart condition that has him benched for the season.
“I know it’s an injury that requires surgery, so I’ll be having heart surgery and I’ll be out a couple months and after that I’ll be back,” he said in the video. “A lot of people are asking if it’s career-ending.”
“The answer is absolutely not. Just a little bump in the road… During my rehab, I’ll be attending my classes and being a normal student. But that’s what’s going on, and I’d like to thank UCLA, my family, my teammates and everyone who supports me in this decision.”