LeBron James pens heartfelt note to Shaq's son Shareef

By Alex Butler  |  Updated Jan. 17, 2018 at 12:04 PM
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Jan. 17 (UPI) -- LeBron James isn't really Shareef O'Neal's uncle, but he penned a heartfelt message on Wednesday to his "nephew."

The Cleveland Cavaliers star wrote the note on Instagram after Shaquille O'Neal's son was left off the rosters for the McDonald's All-American Game. The 2018 rosters were released Wednesday.

O'Neal is a five-star prospect for Crossroads School in Santa Monica, Calif. He committed to the University of Arizona on April 19. The 6-foot-8, 205-pound power forward is ranked as the No. 24 player in the ESPN 100 rankings for high school prospects.

The East team for the game includes: R.J. Barrett, Moses Brown, Darius Garland, Louis King, Romeo Langford, David McCormack, E.J. Montgomery, Immanuel Quickly, Naz Reid, Jalen Smith, Coby White and Zion Williamson.

The West squad includes: Darius Bazley, Bol Bol, Jordan Brown, Devon Dotson, Quentin Grimes, Keldon Johnson, Tre Jones, Nassir Little, Reggie Perry, Jahvon Quinerly, Cameron Reddish and Simi Shittu.

James -- the MVP of the game in 2003 -- offered some motivation for the youngster.

"Nephew listen," James wrote on Instagram. "Even though we all know you should have made that McDonald's game, use it as motivation to prove, not to those who didn't vote you in, not to those who is actually in the game, but more importantly to yourself that u belong! Keep grinding, studying and working daily! The light is always brighter at the end of the tunnel." 

Hold your head high lil bro @shareefoneal the sky’s the limit! Love 🤘🏽

A post shared by matt_barnes9 (@matt_barnes9) on

Former NBA point guard Nate Robinson commented on James' post, saying that the King should start his own contest with top prospects.

"Bro have ur own game so kids don't even go to the McDonald's anymore," Robinson wrote in a comment on the post. "Let's send the kids to Kings Castle All-American Game. I know my son will be ready."

James and Robinson weren't the only NBAers to comment on the snub. Matt Barnes also dissed the fast-food joint, saying he would no longer let his kids eat chicken nuggets.

"Dear McDonald's," Barnes wrote on Instagram. "Seeing that you made a huge mistake by leaving Shareef O'Neal off the McDonald's All-American Team. I will no longer allow my twins to eat your 6 piece chicken nugget happy meals!! I hope you're happy. I know the twins won't be when I tell them NO MORE NUGGETTS!! Smh. #NoMoreNuggets."

Former NBA All-Star Gilbert Arenas liked the post and commented with a series of laughing emojis.

The McDonald's All-American Game is set for March 28 at Philips Arena in Atlanta.

"Got some very wise words from LeBron this morning...he posted on his Instagram....I've always looked up to LeBron because he always treated me like family...he is family," O'Neal tweeted.

Shaq also talked about the game on his Instagram account, showing a side-by-side of himself.

"McDonald's All-American team took one guy from the west, cool, that's cool son, no more Mr. Nice Guy. It's on now," Shaw wrote on Instagram. "#ThanksMcDonalds."

Shareef celebrated his 18th birthday on Saturday night at West Coast Customs in Burbank, Calif.

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