Shareef O’Neal Explains Why He Kept Secret That His Father is Shaq

    (L-R) Shareef O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal attend the 19th Annual Harold and Carole Pump Foundation Gala at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 09, 2019, in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Tiffany Rose/Getty Images for Harold and Carole Pump Foundation )

    *Shareef O’Neal, the 23-year-old son of NBA icon Shaquille O’Neal, says it’s not always easy being the child of a superstar athlete.

    Shareef, power forward for the NBA G League Ignite, tells ESSENCE Magazine that when he was younger, no one at his schools knew he was the son of a legend.

    “The thing about me that not a lot of people know is nobody knew who my dad was at none of my schools until I was about 15 or 16 years old,” he shared with the publication. “All the parent-teacher conferences, it was just my mom who came. It was a set plan. We just kind of hid it so people didn’t treat us differently.”

    Shareef said that all changed when his father came to one of his basketball games.

    READ MORE: Shaq/Other Athletes Defend LSU’s Angel Reese After Racists Call Her ‘Classless’ for Taunting White Player

    Shaquille O’Neal and his kids / Getty

    “But when basketball season started coming around, people started filming the games. There was a small game, 8 o’clock in the morning, my dad came, and someone happened to film him. They posted it on YouTube, and that was it after that,” he explained. “Everyone knew.”

    Shaq was previously married to Shareef’s mother, Shaunie, with whom he also shares kids Amirah, Myles, Shaqir, and Me’arah.

    “I feel like being the son of an athlete of his caliber made me grow up a lot faster. I got to see things most young kids wouldn’t see. I got to be behind the scenes of the NBA life and that famous lifestyle,” Shareef told ESSENCE.

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