O’Neal, son of NBA hall of famer Shaquille O’Neal, was preparing to start his basketball career with the University of California Los Angles Bruins when he was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect affecting the coronary artery.
Following open-heart surgery in December 2018, the Los Angeles native, spent months in rehabilitation and had to relearn how to walk again.
“I’m truly excited about the chance support the American Heart Association’s lifesaving mission,” said O’Neal. “My family and I went through a lot with my surgery. When I was in the hospital, I was continually inspired by child survivors.
Those experiences drove me to get back on the court and to the game that I love. Now I want to use my journey to give hope and impact the future of heart health. Together we have an opportunity to raise funds and make a huge difference.”
O’Neal’s three-year fundraising campaign aims to inspire giving to support the American Heart Association’s mission of driving equitable health for all and improving and saving lives from heart disease and stroke, the leading causes of death globally.
“We believe every person deserves the opportunity for a full, healthy life, but this is not the reality for many people in our community due to socioeconomic factors beyond their control,” said Nancy Brown, American Heart Association Chief Executive Officer. “We are so appreciative of Shareef’s commitment to help elevate our mission and raise critical funds to help remove barriers to health equity, advance innovative research and power the next generation of lifesavers through CPR education.”
Donations through the Life is Why campaign support the Association’s efforts to:
- Provide funding support to local entrepreneurs and organizations working to improve health outcomes in under-resourced communities;
- Fund research that can improve the health outcomes of heart and stroke patients;
- Train more than 2.5 million high school students in CPR annually.
To learn more about the Life Is Why campaign, visit www.heart.org/lifeiswhy.