Shareef O’Neal is looking to follow in his superstar father’s footsteps, but it seems Shaquille O’Neal has different aspirations for his 22-year-old son.
The topic came up at a press conference following Shareef’s pre-draft practice with the Los Angeles Lakers, for whom his father played between 1996 and 2004.
During the conference, Shareef explained how his career plans differ from those his father has in mind.
“We kind of bump into this process,” the 22-year-old began. “He wanted me to stay in school. I wanted to improve myself through it.
“He didn’t do any practice before the draft; he just got straight to the point [Orlando Magic], so it’s a different grind,” Shareef added of his dad. “So he didn’t want me to do that, and I know he probably doesn’t want me to say that, but sorry.” We are both adults. We’ll move on.”
Staying on the subject of his famous father, Shareef talked about the comparisons people inevitably make between him and Shaquille.
“I feel like he and I have a whole different story now. I’ve been through things that he hasn’t been through. He was the No. 1 pick in the draft. I had to fend for to get here. I had to grind a lot,” he noted. “I’ve had to go through some things for the last four years — foot injuries, heart surgeries — and I don’t really look like to be in his shadow.”
“I know it’s always going to be there, the comparison,” Shareef continued. “Every child is going to be compared to their father who does the same thing as them. So that’s going to be there. I don’t mind.
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Shareef also explained that he thinks the pre-draft practice invite helped him not “get enough opportunities” during college, as he played basketball for UCLA and LSU.
“I felt like in college I didn’t have enough opportunities. I didn’t feel like I was in college,” he said.[The invite] kind of opened a lot of doors for me…I feel like it really pulled me back and showed a little bit what I can do.
“Once I started getting calls from teams to practice, I was like, ‘Man, this is what I want to do. I mean, I’m here, it’s right in front of me, so go ahead. So, I kept working,” Shareef added.
Shareef gushed about the opportunity to don official Lakers gear, saying he was “starstruck.”
“I came in today and I was a little dazzled. Like, I was really born into this team. My dad and Kobe won championships when I was born, and now I’m the one putting on the equipment of the Lakers. It was crazy. I was kind of speechless,” Shareef recalled.
“It’s such a blessing for a team that I saw growing up. My dad won championships with this team and now that I have stuff on the Lakers it’s amazing. It’s a dream come true,” he continued.