According to Shareef O’Neal, growing up with a celebrity dad has its ups and downs.
During a recent interview with Essence Magazine, Shareef O’Neal—current power forward for the NBA G League Ignite and second oldest son of Shaquille O’Neal—revealed that he and his siblings chose to keep the identity of their father a secret in order to shield them from being treated differently.
“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. 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.”
“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. Everyone knew.”
“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.”
Shareef’s sister, Amirah O’Neal, added that growing up with Shaq as their father was “fun.”
“Growing up with my dad being Shaquille O’Neal was great. 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–Shareef, Amirah, Myles, Shaqir, and Me’arah recently came together for a campaign for Silk, rocking the iconic milk mustaches from the ’90s as a nod to their old dad.
Amirah shared her excitement about working on this campaign and paying homage to her father.
“Working on something so special like the Silk Nextmilk campaign along with my siblings was such a great experience. 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.”
Check out Shareef’s highlights below.