Me'Arah selected Florida over her father's alma mater LSU
Me'Arah O'Neal is headed to Florida!
The youngest child of NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal, Me'Arah, 17, officially announced her commitment to the University of Florida on Sunday.
Me'Arah posted several images on Instagram and a video confirming her decision, and in an Instagram Live on Sunday, Me'Arah chatted with fans while celebrating her choice with family and friends.
"Big day," she said to viewers on the app.
According to ESPN, she chose Florida over LSU, where her father played in college. Me'Arah told the outlet that a visit to Florida's campus in September convinced her it was the right choice for her.
"I went on the Florida visit, and I had a feeling that's where I belonged," she told ESPN. "And that I was going to be most successful if I went to go play at Florida."
Me'Arah specifically said she was interested in playing for Gators' coach Kelly Rae Finley.
"I felt like I connected with Coach Kelly more than I connected with any of the other schools that recruited me. She really cares about me not just on the court but off the court. That's important for me," Me'Arah told ESPN.
Shaquille, 51, said he "tried to stay out of" his daughter's decision on a university, even after calling her visit to LSU "one of the best moments" of his life while speaking with ESPN.
"What I did tell her is, 'Go where you're needed, not where you're wanted. Because if you go where you're wanted and they got other people like you, may take a while.' I want [my kids] to have their own journey, have their own experience," Shaquille said.
Me'Arah added that her father "was just there to support me," while visiting colleges.
"I was pressuring myself to make a decision, but I learned I had to be patient. And I did make this decision on my own," she said.
In another post on Instagram, Me'Arah wrote, "The best thing about growing up is discovering who you really are."
In a video shared by Me'Arah's mother Shaunie, the Florida-bound athlete thanked her family and friends for their support. "And my siblings for inspiring me," Me'Arah added.
Me'Arah reposted several messages from friends and family after she made her announcement. Her brother Myles commented "Let's gooooo," on the post.
USC Basketball star Bronny James, whose father is NBA star LeBron James, wrote, "proud of you," on Me'Arah's post.
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Me'Arah played basketball at Episcopal High School in Houston.
Shaquille and his ex-wife Shaunie O'Neal share four children together: sons Shareef and Shaqir, and daughters Amirah and Me'arah. The NBA star also has a stepson, Myles, from Shaunie's previous relationship, and a daughter, Taahirah, with his former girlfriend, Arnetta Yardbourgh.
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