After nearly a week with his family, Jermaine O’Neal has returned to his extended family.
He rejoined his Phoenix Suns’ teammates Monday following six days in Boston, where his daughter, 13-year-old Asjia, underwent successful heart surgery to repair a leaky valve.
“As a parent, you try to mentally be as strong as you possibly can for your kids,” O’Neal said. “My daughter, she taught me a lot about strength over these last six days. It’s hard to see kids go through what she went through.
“I don’t think anything you can do can actually prepare you to see the emotions of a child — your child, going into surgery and the emotions of watching your child be connected to an IC unit and watching her go through pain that you only wish that you could be in her position to endure.”
O’Neal missed three games while he was at his daughter’s side. He missed a fourth Monday when he did not suit up against the Denver Nuggets.
“I will play Wednesday,” he said when the Suns visit Houston to start a three-game road trip.
O’Neal arrived back in town Sunday and immediately went to US Airways center for what he called “one of the top five worst workouts of all-time in NBA history.”
He believes after a practice Tuesday, he’ll “pick up where I left off” averaging 12.1 points, 9.8 rebounds and two blocks in his last eight games.
O’Neal though said it was difficult leaving his daughter to make the six hour flight from Boston.
“I couldn’t be any prouder, as a parent, of my daughter,” he said.
“Ultimately, at the end of the day, the power of prayer and the power of God is, you know when man says things can’t be done, only God can determine whether he can or not. For what God did for my daughter, I feel like I owe him my life.”
O’Neal also credited the support he and his family received, especially from his former team, the Boston Celtics.
“Phone calls. Care packages. (Kevin) Garnett and those guys sending flowers,” O’Neal said. “(Plus) the Phoenix Suns: Lon Babby, Lance Blanks, Robert (Sarver), those guys showed a lot of support.
“That was probably the most emotional part to see the support that people showed from all over. We showed her that. We took pictures. It really meant a lot to her. I think that helped the healing process.”