Despite understanding the severity of the situation at the time, Shaquille O’Neal found a way to use humor to help his son Shareef O’Neal cope with the fear of having surgery. As fans might certainly be aware, Shaq is an NBA legend and was considered by many to be a transcendental talent and force during his prime.
Although his son Shareef has struggled to pave his own path as a professional basketball player, his journey was greatly hampered by challenges that life through his way. At that time, Shaq decided to take his son’s mind away from his predicament by making a joke. Let us take a closer look at the context of the situation and the joke that O’Neal used to cheer up his son.
Shaquille O’Neal cracked a joke to make Shareef O’Neal feel better before surgery
While Shaq has made a name for himself during his playing days as an intimidating character, he clearly does not show that side of him when with his family and children. In fact, Shaq is known by many as a gentle, kind, and generous person. Despite possessing all these qualities, he likely felt frustrated over the fact that his young son would have to undergo a life-threatening open heart surgery.
O’Neal certainly had the resources to ensure that his son would get the best treatment available in the country. However, that alone wouldn’t guarantee the success of the surgery or Shareef’s quality of life in the aftermath. As one can imagine, this caused a significant amount of doubt and worry in his mind. Especially since he wanted to achieve his dream as a basketball player.
Shaq was interviewed on the Dan Patrick Show and discussed how he managed to comfort Shareef given the severity of his situation, “He was very scared. You know, I always said to myself it’s stories that get me to calm down and get me to the next level…So right before the surgery, he was scared and he had a little tear in his eye.”
The 4x NBA champion went on to share what joke he made to alleviate the situation, “I told him he should be…But when you go in that room, you’re gonna meet a young lady named ‘Ana Sthesia’ and you won’t remember anything!… Her name’s ‘Ana Sthesia’ and she’s gonna kiss you,…You’ll wake up and everything will be fine.”
Although this might not seem like a very good joke, it was certainly the best one for the situation. After all, there is nothing Shareef could have done to ensure a successful surgery. All he could do was lose consciousness and pray for the best. His father knew that and made an appropriate joke to defuse the tension in the air.