Shareef O’Neal, a junior at LSU, recently signed a deal with NFT Genius, a startup cryptocurrency company backed by Mark Cuban and Ashton Kutcher. The basketball player will be included as one of 10,000 non-fungible tokens of NFT Genius’s BALLERZ project.
When asked about how much he stands to make from the deal, O’Neal responded, “It could be a crazy amount, that’s all I know.”
NFT Genius CEO, Jeremy Born, declined to comment on the exact nature and details of the deal with O’Neal but did mention that, “It’s a monumental undertaking — arguably the first time in the NFT space where an athlete is showcased not only for their work on the court, but also for important causes and personal hardships they may be facing off the court,” in reference to the struggles O’Neal has faced already in his life and career.
Before playing for his father’s alma mater at LSU, O’Neal originally played for UCLA. However, during a routine physical examination, it was revealed that O’Neal had a heart defect that required surgery to correct.
On December 13, 2018, O’Neal underwent open-heart surgery to correct a right anomalous coronary artery, a congenital heart defect. While recovering from his surgery, he missed out on the 2018 – 2019 season.
After he had recovered, he played around 13 games with UCLA while averaging 2.2 points and 2.9 rebounds a game before announcing that he was transferring to LSU to continue his father’s career.
However, O’Neal suffered a hairline fracture in his foot that forced him to only be able to play in 10 games last season. Yet, he performed slightly better with an average of 2.8 points and 4.4 rebounds a game. The injury continues to debilitate him as he hopes to make a recovery before LSU begins conference play on December 29, 2021.
“I know this season is going to be a great season when I get back,” O’Neal said.
O’Neal could also agree that the BALLERZ NFT’s will be dropped on December 13, 2021, mirroring the day he went under the knife. What makes it doubly great is that Born also mentioned that the BALLERZ collection will include the entirety of the O’Neal family as well.
And now, with the signing of this NIL deal, O’Neal can be ecstatic that he no longer has to ask his father for money anymore. Everything that he has been through could have taken down anyone, but he stands tall and resolute. As tall and resolute as the bronze statue of his father outside the LSU basketball locker room.
“…I walk past it every day going to practice. It’s cool to see, like, that’s my dad,” O’Neals said when teammates asked him how he feels about the statue.
One can only imagine how Shareef O’Neal perseveres through all that could still be affecting him in the aftermath of surgery, familial legacy, current injuries, and the attention this NIL deal brings.
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