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Dreaming Big: My NBA Legend Dad Believes I’ll Be the Greatest Women’s Basketball Player Ever!

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ME’ARAH O’Neal is the daughter of an NBA icon – but she is ready to make a name for herself.

The high school phenom is currently best known as the youngest daughter of Los Angeles Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal.

Me’arah O’Neal is a high school basketball phenom
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Me’arah O’Neal is a high school basketball phenomCredit: Getty

O'Neal is the youngest daughter of NBA icon Shaquille O'Neal
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O’Neal is the youngest daughter of NBA icon Shaquille O’NealCredit: Instagram/mearahoneal_

The 6-foot-4 star has committed to the Florida Gators
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The 6-foot-4 star has committed to the Florida GatorsCredit: Instagram/mearahoneal_

Me'Arah (center) pictured with her dad and siblings in 2013
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Me’Arah (center) pictured with her dad and siblings in 2013Credit: Getty

But the 6-foot-4 star is forging her own path after deciding to play for the Florida Gators, rather than her dad’s alma mater LSU.

Me’arah has had huge expectations on her shoulders from a young age.

In 2016, when she was just 10, Shaq predicted during his Naismith Hall of Fame induction speech that Me’Arah would be the best women’s basketball player ever.

“My youngest baby, Me’Arah. Stand up, baby,” Shaq said.

“I don’t like to put pressure on my babies, but she works out with my sons, and I think it’s fair to say one day if she continues, Me’Arah will probably be the best women’s basketball player ever.

“She’s that good.”

It remains to be seen whether Me’Arah reaches those lofty heights.

But the 17-year-old has shown her worth by leading Episcopal High School in Houston to the state basketball title in Texas.

“I’m pretty sure a lotta people expect me to play just like my dad,” Me’Arah told ESPN.

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“Strong, big post player, runnin’ through people, what Shaq does. But I’m not that.

“The biggest expectation is to turn out like my dad. But fulfilling that name, that’s not really my goal…

“I just wanna be my own person and make a name for myself. And I think I’m doing that pretty well.”

Me’Arah started playing basketball aged three with her older brothers and dad in the family gym.

“When I first saw Me’Arah dribble a basketball, I actually was kind of shocked because no one taught her,” her mom Shaunie Henderson said.

“She just watched her brothers. It wasn’t even like she was a little girl that watched basketball on television…

“She has a God-given athletic ability that is just not normal.”

As Me’Arah developed, she gained numerous offers from Division 1 schools – including  LSU, Florida, Baylor, Kentucky, Cal, Arizona State, Georgia Tech and Tennessee.

Me’Arah has the potential to earn an NIL fortune in college – and she has her sights set on the WNBA and beyond.

“I wanna make it to the WNBA. I wanna hold my own name,” Me’Arah says.

 


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