Nobody’s Business: Shareef O’Neal Says He Hid The Fact That His Father Was Shaq

Nobody’s Business: Shareef O’Neal Says He Hid The Fact That His Father Was Shaq

It’s not easy being the child of a legend, though; it has its perks.

For the children of NBA champion and Hall of Fame center Shaquille O’Neal, it was better to keep the identity of their superstar father concealed to shield them from being treated differently. In a recent interview with ESSENCE Magazine, Shareef O’Neal—current power forward for the NBA G League Ignite and second oldest son of the O’Neal family—revealed that he and his siblings’ plan worked for most of his high school career.

“The thing about me that not a lot of people know is nobody knew who my dad was at none of my schools until I was about 15 or 16 years old,” he shared. “All the parent-teacher conferences, it was just my mom who came. It was a set plan. We just kind of hid it so people didn’t treat us differently.”

Shareef and siblings Amirah, Myles, Shaqir, and Me’arah are also children of reality TV pioneer and Basketball Wives star Shaunie Henderson (formerly O’Neal).

“But when basketball season started coming around, people started filming the games. There was a small game, 8 o’clock in the morning, my dad came, and someone happened to film him. They posted it on YouTube, and that was it after that,” he adds. “Everyone knew.”

The O’Neal kids have been privy to things that so few other people in the world get to experience, and it’s made them recognize the privilege that came along with it. “I feel like being the son of an athlete of his caliber made me grow up a lot faster. I got to see things most young kids wouldn’t see. I got to be behind the scenes of the NBA life and that famous lifestyle,” he told ESSENCE. Shareef’s sister, Amirah, added that growing up with Shaq as their father was “fun.” “Growing up with my dad being Shaquille O’Neal was great,” she said. “There were some good things as well as bad things, but due to the fact that I had two amazing parents growing up, paving my own and staying in my own lane has been pretty easy.”

The five O’Neal kids recently came together for a campaign for dairy substitute company Silk, rocking the iconic milk mustaches from the ’90s as a nod to their father. “Working on something so special like the Silk Nextmilk campaign along with my siblings was such a great experience,” said Amirah. “I had such a good time, and I’m so glad that my siblings and I had the chance to get together and pay homage to my dad’s ad.”

We love a feel-good family moment.