How Shaq became a ‘father figure’ to Angel Reese and escorted the LSU star for Senior Day

Dollita Okine March 05, 2024
The NBA great led the 21-year-old and her mother, Angel Reese, from their locker to the court at his alma mater, LSU, where Reese was being honored. Image via CBS

Shaquille O’Neal took Angel Reese to the Tigers’ senior day celebration in a sweet star-meets-star scene that made LSU fans melt. The NBA great led the 21-year-old and her mother, Angel Reese, from their locker to the court at his alma mater, LSU, where Reese was being honored.

The senior day ceremony was held during halftime of the LSU Tigers’ game against the Kentucky Wildcats, which LSU won 77-56.

According to People, the 51-year-old star and the older Reese wore specially designed shirts with illustrations of the LSU star on the front and the caption, “Bayou Barbie is My Favorite Senior,” referring to Reese’s well-known nickname, on the back.

Shaq and Reese first met during an LSU football game, according to USA Today. Since then, Shaq—a star at LSU before being selected in the 1992 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic—and the winner of the NCAA Tournament MVP award last year have gotten closer, with Shaq acting as a mentor to the young player.

Reese, who shot to fame during LSU’s 2023 March Madness tournament championship run last year, recalled that Shaq gave her advice on how to handle her newfound national prominence. “He just said, people are gonna hate me, people are not gonna like me, people are gonna feel some type of way because they wish they were me, they’re gonna judge me,” Reese expressed.

She added that she intended to ask O’Neal to accompany her and her mother on their senior walk, which happened.

“He’s super inspiring to me,” Reese said of the Basketball Hall of Famer to USA Today. “He’s so genuine, he’s been there for me through tough times. He just gets it, and there’s not a more perfect person for me to be tight with. We have fun, and if I need anything, he would help me … and he would do that even if I never played basketball again. He doesn’t care about me as a player, he cares about me as a person.”

Moreover, Shaq has actively supported his mentee by going on social media to shut out Reese’s internet bullies. He once commented on X, the former Twitter platform, saying, “Shut your dumb a– up leave Angel Reese alone,” in response to a reporter’s disparaging comments about her.

Reese subsequently tweeted Shaq’s answer on her own page, writing, “yeah my uncle shaq don’t play bout me. Period.”

The NBA icon was also said to have declared Reese “probably the greatest athlete to ever come out of LSU sports” on an episode of his podcast, The Big Podcast with Shaq, adding that the title applied to “male or female” LSU athletes.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 5, 2024

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