Shaquille O’Neal’s Sister Dies After Battle With Cancer

Shaquille O'Neal

Shaquille O’Neal’s sister, Ayesha Harrison-Jex, died of cancer Thursday. She was 40 years old.

Harrison-Jex was diagnosed with cancer three years ago. Shaquille O’Neal didn’t know his biological father growing up and was raised by his stepfather, Philip A. Harrison, who was Ayesha’s father. O’Neal was not on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” on Thursday night and his colleagues passed along their condolences.

Host Ernie Johnson said of Shaquille O’Neal, “When he struggles, we struggle with him because he’s one of our brothers. … He said his world revolves around his brother and two sisters, and he lost one of his sisters this morning, far too early.”

Charles Barkley sent kind words to O’Neal’s mother, Lucille O’Neal, explaining she was there for his family when his mother died.

O’Neal’s other co-hosts also sent their condolences to his family.

“I want to just give a special shout-out to his mom, Miss Lucille, who was best friends with my mom,” Barkley said. “When my mom passed away, she came and spent her last few days with my mom. So I just want to give Miss Lucille a hug and tell her I love her. What she did for my mom at the end … I can never thank them enough, and I feel for her and Shaquille. And the rest of the family also.”

“He’s … the big family guy,” Smith added. “We always see his kids, his family always around. One of the most difficult things about being close to someone and working with them this many years — you get to know them and their family and their friends, so you hurt so much more just as much as you have the pain, just as much as you have the joy … That’s part of being a family, experiencing the joy and the pain.”