Me'arah O'Neal is the daughter of Shaquille O'Neal. She is 13 years old and the youngest child of the basketball giant and his ex-wife Shaunie O'Neal. Me'arah's older siblings include her sister Amirah, and her two brothers Shareef and Shaqir. She also has an older half-sister, Taahirah, the only daughter of Shaquille and Arnetta Yardbourgh. Her older half brother Myles is from her mother's previous relationship.
Me'arah was good friends with Gianna Bryant, who died in a tragic helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, alongside her father, basketball legend Kobe Bryant, and seven others: Payton Chester, 13; Sarah Chester, 45; Alyssa Altobelli, 14; Keri Altobelli, 46; John Altobelli, 56; Christina Mauser, 38; and the helicopter's pilot, Ara Zobayan, 50.
Kobe and his daughter were on their way to a youth basketball game at the time of the tragedy, which occurred on January 26.
Me'arah and Gianne shared a love of basketball and carried on their families' traditions of displaying supreme skills on the court. Me'arah played for Kobe's Mamba Sports Academy on a team where she sharpened her technique alongside other female players with big hoop dreams -- not unlike Gianna.
The two young girls also shared other important aspects of their lives together, including birthdays, friends, and family.
Me'arah & Gianna Were Both Born On The Same DayIn an Instagram post shared on the day of the helicopter crash, Me'arah revealed that she and Gianna were born on the same day and year, May 1, 2006. She posted an image of Gianna where she is seen wearing a Mamba Sports Academy uniform with her number, two.
Me'arah revealed in the image's caption that Gianna was like a sister to her. The teen also wished that Gianna and their legendary basketball-playing fathers Kobe and Shaq could have shared the court together.
The teenager revealed she was sad she didn't get to say goodbye to her friend but promised she would keep Gianna's legacy alive. Me'arah vowed to represent Gianna as a team player by being the best person she can be as her own small way of keeping the memory of her friend going.
"My twin. What's crazy is, ur like my sister, we was born on the same exact day, we was like family! I wish we could've had a better bond and could've played together alongside you, and ur dad.. I love you GiGi, I'm sorry that it had to end this way, I never got to say goodbye. I love you, ur legacy will go on. Imma represent you in every way I can! We gone finish what you started," Me'arah's emoji-filled caption read in full.
Gianna & Kobe Watched Me'arah Play A Basketball Game Just 1 Day Before The Helicopter CrashMe'arah posted the photo above on Instagram, which was taken during a basketball game she had played just 24 hours prior to the tragedy. In the pic, both Kobe and Gianna are seen standing above the basketball court at Mamba Sports Academy watching Me'arah.
In the post, the teen, who stands 6 feet, 4 inches tall, is standing at the free-throw line. She wrote an inspirational message to accompany the pic, which you can see above.
Me'arah revealed that during the game, she ran over to her "Unc," Uncle for short, which is what she used to call Kobe, and he told her that her game was "looking great" and that she was "better than good enough to make it."
Me'arah Has The Potential To Be A Great Professional Female Basketball PlayerMe'arah currently attends Crossroads School in Santa Monica, California, the same institute of learning her siblings attended and played basketball at.
Me'arah may only be in middle school but can perform a behind-the-back, turnaround jumper with little effort. Her skills on the court widely surpass her younger years, according to USA Today's High School Sports.
The teen, who plays center, reportedly is the only one of Shaq's kids whose basketball skills most closely resemble those of her famous father. She is a dominant force on both sides of the ball and will likely become one of the top players in her 2024 graduating class. This could very well lead her to be one of the top draft picks in her senior year of high school if she continues on her current and extraordinary athletic path.