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Shaq’s son Shareef O’Neal to undergo sudden open-heart surgery, will miss season

Shareef O'Neal

UCLA star Shareef O’Neal –son of Los Angeles Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal — will reportedly miss this season due to a heart complication that requires surgery. According to a report from TMZ, the UCLA medical staff found the medical issue during a routine check-up. And while he may be out of commission for a while, Shareef has pledged to return to the court as soon as possible.

After noting that he “felt funny” during practice earlier this summer, O’Neal was given a heart monitor that was equipped with an emergency button. He pressed that button during one practice, and doctors later found his heart ailment.

“Thank God the UCLA medical staff caught it early,” O’Neal recently told TMZ.

The specifications of Shareef’s medical issue have not been released, but there is a heart surgery planned, according to TMZ.

Though he’s facing a serious surgery and recovery, Shareef pointed out that he will not be withdrawing from UCLA during the rehabilitation process. In fact, he intends on returning after a medical redshirt season in 2018-19.

“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,” O’Neal told TMZ. “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.”

O’Neal, a four-star recruit, was set to join an outstanding class of athletes at UCLA — a class that ESPN.com ranked third, just behind Duke and Kentucky.