Shareef O'Neal saw something very inspiring earlier this month. The son of NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal went to social media to share a photo of Kobe Bryant's jersey number in the clouds. No. 8 was one of Bryant's two numbers he wore while a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.
"I can’t believe I saw this today, " Shareef O'Neal wrote. "It sent chills through my body .. it might be a stretch to some but I see it clear as day .. even the same font! Wow, so amazing #8. WE MISS YOU. Many people on social media agreed the cloud looked like Bryant's No. 8. And some even that that the cloud means that Bryant is watching over the young O'Neal who is now a member of the LSU basketball team. Back in February, O'Neal told Sports Illustrated he was transferring from UCLA to LSU, which is where his father played college ball.
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"Real big footsteps," he said as reported by 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." O'Neal played in 13 games this past season before announcing he would be transferring. In his first season with UCLA, O'Neal sat out after being diagnosed with a right anomalous coronary artery, which led to him having open-heart surgery. He also talked to Sports Illustrated about the last text message he received from Bryant.
"[Bryant's death] made me focus more," he said. "I feel like it changed my basketball drive to, like, times 10. I'm going to do it for him because I know he would want me to do well." As for Shaquille O'Neal, he had a special relationship with Bryant as the duo won three NBA titles in the early 2000s. During Bryant's celebration of life in February, O'Neal talked about the impact Bryant made on his life.
"When I ever imagined speaking to a group of people about Kobe Bryant, I usually pictured it in a context of a Hall of Fame induction or as a guest speaker at one of Kobe and Vanessa’s foundation events, but never did I imagine that I would be here speaking today … and it pains me to my core," he said. "Like all of you, I continue to be devastated over the loss of my friend, my little brother, Kobe Bryant and my beautiful niece Gigi. All of us were forever changed on January 26."