Angel Reese, Shaq, Shaquille O'Neal

‘He’s Been There For Me Through Tough Times’: LSU’s Angel Reese Talks About Support From Shaquille O’Neal

Angel Reese told USA Today that Shaq was like a father figure to her.

Louisiana State University women’s basketball player Angel Reese sat down with USA Today for a Jan. 25 interview in which she opened up about her journey through adversity at LSU and how NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal supported her through it all. 

Reese explained that Shaq has been a powerful positive presence in her life as the “Bayou Barbie” has risen to stardom as a forward on the court. She revealed that Shaq is a “father figure” who made it a point to watch most of her games, and that he constantly pushes her to be better by giving her impressive goal stats to hit during the games she plays. 

Shaq and Reese met initially through LSU’s assistant coach Bob Starkey after he told O’Neal—whom he also used to coach—that Reese would be a good candidate for Authentic Brands Group, an enterprise that represents and markets top-notch athletes. O’Neal is a major shareholder in Authentic Brands Group.

Starkey explained, “There’s really strong parallels in their personalities. They love people, they welcome the spotlight that comes with stardom, they both have a great love for this school and an enthusiasm for life.” 

He continued, “It’s incredibly important to me that I know Angel has Shaquille every step of the way. Shaquille is an incredibly loyal person. When Shaquille is in your camp, he’s 10 toes in. Even when Angel was going through some difficulties earlier this season, he was right there for her. Where some companies might want to distance themselves from negative [attention], not Shaquille. He’s going to be there for her forever.” 

Reese and O’Neal have maintained a strong mentor-mentee relationship ever since they met. Reese hosted O’Neal’s daughter, Me’Arah, for an official visit to the LSU campus, and even admitted that she was going to ask Shaq to be a guest for her Senior’s Day activities, which are typically only for family members of students. 

Reese told USA Today that amid all her drama at LSU, Shaq advised her to stay off social media and keep hustling.

“He’s super inspiring to me. He’s so genuine, he’s been there for me through tough times. He just gets it, and there’s not a more perfect person for me to be tight with. We have fun, and if I need anything, he would help me … and he would do that even if I never played basketball again,” Reese expressed. 

“He doesn’t care about me as a player, he cares about me as a person. One thing I always remember he said is, I have the world at my fingertips. I could post right now on Instagram that I bought a million-dollar home and people are going to believe it, because that’s how social media works. So when all of that was happening, he was coaching me up.”

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