Kobe Bryant texted Shaquille O'Neal's son, Shareef O'Neal, just hours before his death last month, with Shareef revealing recently that he cherishes those words a great deal. The 20-year-old college basketball player told Sports Illustrated that he made the message of Bryant asking "You good fam?" his phone background.
"I look at it every day," Shareef said. "It's a special moment. It's crazy that three hours before that he texted me asking if I'm good. He was always checking in on me. I was literally going, I would've seen him that day because I was going to the same place he was going. It's crazy. It's still unbelievable."
Shareef said he was supposed to go to Bryant's Mamba Sports Academy, where Bryant was headed the day he, his daughter Gianna Bryant and seven others were killed in the accident. Bryant wanted O'Neal's sister to play basketball with 13-year-old Gianna.
"There's always those people in life you look at like superheroes and that nothing bad can ever happen to them. It's still unbelievable to me, I still don't even want to believe it," Shareef said. "It's just crazy to think about. It races through my mind, but it made me focus more. I feel like it's changed my basketball drive to times 10. I'm gonna do it for him because I know he'd want me to do well. He always told me he wanted me to do well. It's crazy, but I'm gonna play for him."
Shareef, who recently announced he is transferring from UCLA to his dad's alma mater LSU, previously revealed a Bryant tribute tattoo on his lower right leg. The tattoos depict a No. 2 Mamba Academy jersey for Gianna and the numbers 24 and 8, both worn by Bryant during his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Can’t wait for you guys to see final product pic.twitter.com/DXiUjThmtt— Shareef O’Neal (@SSJreef) February 5, 2020
Shaquille O'Neal, who won three NBA titles with the Lakers alongside Bryant, was distraught after Bryant's death.