Shaq shares first words he told mentee Angel Reese following WNBA draft

Shaquille O'Neal has become a mentor to Reese — who gained prominence during LSU's championship run in the 2023 March Madness tournament — in the past year.

Angel Reese will always have a friend in Shaquille O’Neal.

According to People magazine, the father of six and the former LSU player share a close bond far beyond attending the same college before joining the professional basketball league.

“She’s the same age as my children, so I only want the best for her,” O’Neal said. “And when you have daughters, you know how to use that calm voice.”

Shaquille O'Neal Angel Reese WNBA
In this February photo, Shaquille O’Neal speaks during a pre-game press conference about the Orlando Magic retiring his jersey. He has been a special mentor to former LSU women’s basketball star Angel Reese. (Photo by Kevin Kolczynski/AP)

After the Chicago Sky selected Reese as the seventh pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft on Monday night, O’Neal shared: “the first thing I told her is I was proud of her.”

O’Neal has become a mentor to Reese — who gained prominence during LSU’s championship run in the 2023 March Madness tournament — in the past year. The basketball legend describes himself as Reese’s “understandable ear,” noting that she can find solace in the advice he gives because of his 19-year career in the league, which started when the Orlando Magic selected him as the No. 1 pick in the 1992 NBA Draft.

“I know things that she went through,” he said. “I know what she’s going through, I know what’s about to happen to her, and I could give her advice.”

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The retired NBA star said Reese’s “game is similar” to his in the way that “we do it our way,” and “we’re unapologetic about it.” 

“She plays with a certain passion,” O’Neal told People, “and a lot of times, you can’t really understand that until you understand where a person comes from.”

O’Neal, a self-described “leader,” said he tries to avoid micromanaging people, so he’s careful with his words and avoids demands when speaking to his mentee. But he makes sure she knows he’s proud of her and can always turn to him for advice.

“She had to be tough. She is tough, and she applies that on the court,” O’Neal said of Reese, referring to her upbringing in Baltimore, Maryland. “Some people don’t like that, and it’s understandable, but she’s not apologetic about it.”

“I don’t want her to apologize,” he added, People reported. “I want her to stay beautiful, stay classy, and continue making a name for herself and taking care of her family.”