Shaquille O’Neal Tragically Lost His Sister to Cancer 3 Months Before Kobe’s Death

Shaquille O’Neal is a basketball legend. Over the years, his fans have gotten to know him on a personal level, too. O’Neal belongs to a very large family. Growing up, he and his sister Ayesha Harrison-Jex were extremely close. Throughout the years both O’Neal and Ayesha have shared stories of their childhood. The two seemed to share a special bond together.

In his book, Shaq Talks Back, he shared many memories of what it was like to be a big brother. O’Neal taught his younger sister so many things growing up, and it was a testimony to their relationship. 

Shaquille O’Neal’s sister tragically died

A few years ago, Ayesha Harrison-Jex, O’Neal’s sister, was diagnosed with cancer, details USA Today. Though the O’Neal family was hopeful, things did not go as they wished for. Unfortunately, a few months ago, Harrison-Jex lost her battle to cancer. The NBA star’s sister sadly passed away on October 25, 2019. Harrison-Jex was only 40 years old. 

The timing of the loss of O’Neal’s sister and Kobe Bryant’s death

It was almost three months to the day that O’Neal lost his sister when he found himself watching yet another tragedy unfold. The world was in shock when the news broke of Kobe Bryant’s unexpected death. The basketball star admitted that he didn’t believe it at first.

In an interview with CBS Sports, he explained, “I’m downstairs working out with my son Shaqir and my nephew Columbus, and my other nephew comes in crying, and he shows me his phone, and I snapped at him. I said, ‘Man, get that out of my face.’ We live in a world where anything can be photoshopped, anything can be hoaxed.” O’Neal went on to say how he just simply did not want to believe it. 

What has O’Neal shared about the loss of his sister and Kobe Bryant?

O’Neal would often compare Bryant to a little brother, and it goes without saying that he was having a tough time with the tragic news. Especially considering how soon it followed the death of his sister. When speaking about these losses he said:

“Well, as you know, the last couple months has been really tough. I lost my little sister. I haven’t been sleeping. I haven’t been doing the normal things I usually do. I work, we laugh, we kid and we joke. When I get back home and look at reality and see she’s gone, it just hurts.”

O’Neal has been very candid and honest about his mourning and grieving, and fortunately, he has many people there for him.

The NBA has shown Shaquille O’Neal a tremendous amount of support


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The NBA has shown O’Neal what it means to be there for one another. When it came to the sad passing of his sister, the basketball community immediately began showing an immense outpouring of love for O’Neal and his family.

When the sad news broke Ernie Johnson, one of the hosts from Inside the NBA, came on the air and said, according to USA Today, “When he struggles, we struggle with him because he’s one of our brothers. … He said his world revolves around his brother and two sisters, and he lost one of his sisters this morning, far too early.”

The colleagues and friends O’Neal made in the NBA have truly been looking out for him in light of the unfortunate event. Commissioner Adam Silver reiterated the importance of being there for one another during a tragic time such as this one. In addition, Charles Barkley reached out to O’Neal’s mother to share his condolences. Fans are hopeful that the generous and continuous support helps O’Neal get through this tough time.