When Shaquille O’Neal started school at Louisiana State University over 30 years ago, little did he know he would kick off a family tradition. Next year, not one but two of Shaq’s children will attend his alma mater. Nearly three decades removed from O’Neal’s historic career at LSU, both will have big shoes to fill.
Shaquille O’Neal’s time at LSU
Few players embraced college more than O’Neal. Not only did his basketball career evolve at LSU, but the education changed his life. In a world where O’Neal could’ve left LSU at any point, he famously stayed an extra year after he was NBA eligible. Then, years later, he finished his degree while serving as a member of the Lakers.
O’Neal planned on leaving after two years, but his father swayed him with the advice he still adheres to today. “My father gave me one of the greatest quotes ever: “Because I wanted to come out my sophomore year. I said, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘It’s time for us to get some money,’ O’Neal asked his dad, according to Business Insider. “He said, ‘Nah, you been broke for 18 years, you can be broke for 19 years.’ So I would have to be mentally ready, physically ready, and I would have to know what I was getting into.”
O’Neal has utilized this advice as his kids reach college age. He famously stated they will need to get degrees if they want to touch their father’s fortune.
On top of the educational shoes to fill, however, there are also athletic ones. O’Neal’s averages in three years at LSU spoke for themselves — nearly 22 points per game, 13 rebounds, an assist, a steal, and almost five blocks. Although he never won the NCAA Tournament, his tenure secured him the No. 1 pick in the 1992 NBA Draft. Now, a new generation of O’Neals will take over the school.
Shareef O’Neal’s transfer story
LSU is not Shareef’s first school. As one of the top prospects in the U.S., he famously chose to go to UCLA in 2018. At 6-foot-9, Shareef isn’t quite as tall as his father, but he has the talent. Unfortunately, after committing to UCLA, Shareef was forced to sit out his first year due to a heart condition requiring open-heart surgery.
Back on the court in 2019, Shareef found himself on the outside looking in. He averaged just two points and just under three rebounds per game in 10 minutes of playing time. Hoping to get a bigger role, he looks forward to LSU.
“Real big footsteps [to follow],” Shareef said per ESPN. “But I’m ready for it. Great program. Louisiana is a different scene. I’ve been in L.A. most of my life, but I’m ready for it.” Still young, Shareef hopes to parlay his skills into a professional career like his father’s.
Amirah O’Neal’s next chapter
Shareef will have at least one familiar face at LSU. Younger sister Amirah announced her decision to go to LSU on Instagram on April 16. In her announcement, Amirah stated how excited she was to experience this chapter with her brother by her side.
Amirah averaged 17 points per game at Santa Monica Crossroads and was an honorable mention for MaxPreps 2019 California All-State team.
The O’Neal family hopes to become one of the sports world’s next great dynasties. What better way to do it than to start at the same place their father did? Time will tell if they have similar careers. By choosing LSU, however, the O’Neals have once again put the school on the map.