‘Oh, I Think I’m Going To Be Able To Start Making Money’: Shaq’s Son Shareef O’Neal Signs NIL Deal With Cryptocurrency Company

Image Credit: Twitter @lsutigerswire Screen Shot

Shaquille O’Neal’s son, Shareef O’Neal, was always focused on revenue even before entering his father’s alma mater of LSU.

“I had an NIL meeting last year and I told my mom, ‘Oh, I think I’m going to be able to start making money,'” the younger O’Neal said to USA Today.

“And she was clapping and she was like, ‘Woo hoo, no more asking me and your dad (for money).'”

The O’Neal Legacy

O’Neal, a 6-foot-10 junior, has averaged 2.5 points and 3.6 rebounds during his two seasons in Baton Rouge. But a carousel of medical issues have kept him on the sideline this season.

O’Neal has been dealing with a lingering foot injury. Shareef played only ten games, averaging 2.8 points and 4.4 rebounds. O’Neal hopes to suit up for the first time by the start of the SEC season. It begins at Auburn on Dec. 29.

Shareef O’Neal has signed a NIL deal with NFT Genius, a cryptocurrency startup. Investors in the company include celebs like Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and actor Ashton Kutcher.

The New Athletic Financial Wave

According to reports, what Shareef is making from the deal wasn’t revealed. However, he told USA Today Sports, “It could be a crazy amount, that’s all I know.”

Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are digital content linked to the blockchain, the digital database underpinning cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ethereum.

Unlike NFTs, those assets are fungible, meaning they can be replaced or exchanged with another identical one of the same value, much like a dollar bill.

The O’Neal Connection

NFT Genius launched BALLERZ last month. It is a collection of 10,000 basketball-themed NFTs, and Shareef is in the pool. The first NFTs in Shareef’s collection will launch next week, according to reports.

“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,” Jeremy Born, CEO of NFT Genius said in a statement.

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The first NFT in the collection will drop on Dec. 13, a symbolic day for Shareef. Back on Dec. 13, 2018, he had open-heart surgery.

Shareef’s Surgery

Shareef was diagnosed with a right anomalous coronary artery, a congenital defect that causes an artery to grow in the wrong place.

“It’s scary,” Shareef, 21, said to USA Today Sports. “It’s something I’ve thought about probably 100 times a day ever since it happened. Every time I change my shirt, I see this big scar.

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“Even if I see something as simple as a little heart emoji or a little heart drawing somewhere, it kind of just brings back a lot of memories.”

Second Coming Of Shaq?

After graduating from high school, Shareef was ranked 41st in the 247Sports composite rankings for the 2018 class. He was originally signed to UCLA, where his heart defect was discovered during a routine physical exam.

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It caused Shareef to miss the 2018-19 season as he recovered from the surgery. However, midway through the following season, O’Neal decided to leave UCLA and transferred to LSU. He’d averaged 2.2 points and 2.9 rebounds in 13 games at UCLA.

The new NIL rules have allowed college players on the rise and from prominent athletic families to walk into lucrative situations before ever potentially going pro.


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Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.