LSU Star Angel Reese Has NBA Legend Shaq in Her Corner

In March Madness’s Final Four, star LSU player Angel Reese’s team lost to Iowa. But Angel won something — an affiliation with Shaq.

Jamie Lerner - Author

Apr. 2 2024, Published 3:44 p.m. ET

The biggest game of March Madness in 2024 was the highly anticipated matchup between the LSU Tigers and the Iowa Hawkeyes in the women’s NCAA tournament. Each team featured a rising basketball star — Angel Reese with LSU and Caitlin Clark with Iowa. And the game was a rematch of the 2023 national championship game, which LSU won.

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After that, Angel began spending a lot of time with another basketball legend, Shaquille O’Neal. In March 2024, Shaq escorted Angel at the LSU women’s basketball senior day ceremony. Considering his Hall of Famer status and household name recognition, many are wondering if he and Angel are actually related. So what’s the truth?

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Is Angel Reese related to Shaq?

Although Angel and Shaq seem to be quite close, they’re not related in any known way. But their shared bond likely comes from their shared history. Shaq is also an LSU alum from the ‘90s before becoming a world-famous NBA player, so he frequently attends LSU games and outings. He and Angel first met at an LSU football game, after which they grew closer in a mentor-mentee type of relationship.

When Shaq’s daughter Me’Arah visited LSU as a potential college option in February 2023, she stayed with Angel, which kickstarted Angel’s relationship with Shaq further. While Angel was excited to rapport with a legend, Shaq was looking to sign more female athletes to Reebok, so he challenged her. “Bet you can’t get 20 and 20,” he said. And Angel got 23 points and 26 rebounds in a win against Mississippi State. After that, their mentorship was inevitable.

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In April 2023, Angel lead LSU to victory in the NCAA tournament and won herself the title of NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player. After she became a household name to most sports fans, Shaq gave her some much needed advice. "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," she told USA Today.

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"He’s super inspiring to me," she added of her relationship to Shaq, whom she called a "father figure" as well. "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."

Shaquille O'Neal at an Iowa vs Houston game
Source: Getty Images
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Angel Reese and Shaq have a lot of similarities.

Not only did Angel and Shaq both go to LSU, but they have similar reputations on and off the court. This could explain how their mentorship grew so close and why Angel invited him to escort her at a ceremony typically reserved for families. LSU assistant coach Bob Starkey is one fo the few people to have worked with both Angel and Shaq.

"There’s really strong parallels in their personalities," Bob said. "They love people, they welcome the spotlight that comes with stardom, they both have a great love for this school and an enthusiasm for life." And while both have been in the face of controversy, they are at different points in their careers.

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Angel Reese cries after loss to Iowa
Source: Getty Images

While Shaq builds up Angel’s image through her partnerships and encourages her to be genuine but smart, Angel is still building up her professional basketball career. LSU’s loss to Iowa was definitely a roadblock, but with Shaq in Angel’s corner, we doubt it’s the last we’ll see of her.

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