Shaquille O’Neal Gushes Over Mentee Angel Reese Following Her Selection In WNBA Draft

LSU women’s basketball star Angel Reese is stepping into an exciting yet daunting phase of her life after being drafted to the Chicago Sky, but she’s got some big help (pun intended) along the journey. Shaquille O’Neal recently spoke about their relationship and the first thing he told her after she was drafted to the WNBA.

“I am described as Angel’s understandable ear,” Shaq told People. “I know things that she went through, I know what she’s going through, I know what’s about to happen to herm and I could give her advice.” The four-time NBA Champion was the first pick in the 1992 NBA Draft and went on to have a successful career while also being a big figure in pop culture, much like Reese is becoming.

He also holds the relationship near and dear because the 21-year-old hooper is the same age as his children. “I only want the best for her,” the father of six said. “And when you have daughters, you know how to use that calm voice.”

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After Angel Reese was selected in the No. 7 spot of the WNBA Draft by the Chicago Sky, Shaquille O’Neal had a simple message for her. “The first thing I told her is I was proud of her,” he said. He understood how much anxiety came with this next step she was taking and reiterated that he does not look to micromanage people.

“I’m happy for you. I’m proud of you. If you need anything, you call me,” he said, offering an alternative to telling people what to do or making demands. Shaq believes that he and Reese also connect due to the type of basketball player she is. “We do it our way […] we’re unapologetic about it,” he said. “She plays with a certain passion — and a lot of times, you can’t really understand that until you understand where a person comes from.”

Reese is a Baltimore native, a city known for being rugged. Shaq called it “one of the toughest places in the world” and acknowledged that is part of why Reese operates how she does on and off the court. “She had to be tough,” he said. “She is tough and she applies that on the court. Some people don’t like that and it’s understandable, but she’s not apologetic about it […] I don’t want her to apologize. I want her to stay beautiful, stay classy, and continue making a name for herself and taking care of her family.”

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Shaquille O’Neal and Angel Reese’s relationship has yielded some tender moments over the last year. Last month, the Los Angeles Lakers legend escorted Reese and her mother onto the court for LSU Senior Day.

When she took time off from her team due to mental health issues, Shaq reportedly checked in on her daily. “I talked to Shaq every day,” she said. “We Facetime every day. He checked on me, called me every single day to make sure I was good. He told me every day, ‘This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass.’ He’s been here before. He knows what it takes. Just being able to have somebody like that was something that was good for me.”