Suns center Jermaine O’Neal rejoined the team Monday after heading back to Boston to be with his ailing daughter, Asjia, last week while she underwent surgery to repair a leaky heart valve. O’Neal said she was released from the hospital Monday and is expected to make a full recovery. After being by her side throughout the week, the center spoke about how the experience affected him personally.
As a parent, you try to be as mentally strong as you can for your kids.
But my daughter taught me a lot about strength over these past six days. It’s hard to see your kids go through what she went through the first two or three days.
It was pretty difficult for her, me, my wife and all the family members that were there. I don’t think there is anything that you can do that prepares you to see the emotions of your child going into surgery.
It’s emotional to watch your child become connected to an ICU unit and go through pain that you only wish that you could be in her position to endure. That was quite a process.
It took a lot out of me emotionally, mentally and physically because those first two days there was almost no rest. My wife and I really sat up for almost 24 hours.
We just took turns going home to take a shower. It was tough, but ultimately at the end of the day, the power of prayer and the power of God helped.
Man may say that things can’t be done, but only God can determine whether he can or not. For what God did for my daughter, I feel like I owe him my life.
It’s such a blessing because she progressed in a manner that the doctor told me he had never seen. He’s never seen anybody, let alone a child or adult, heal as fast as she did.
Basically after the first 24-30 hours, all of the tubes were taken out of her. Everything that they thought would be difficult for her and would be something difficult for my wife and I to mentally deal with, my daughter beat it.
I couldn’t be any prouder of my daughter as a parent. The strength she showed going through this challenge teaches you a lot about things. A lot of time, what you think is an issue, really isn’t an issue.
What you deal with on a day-to-day basis seems so significant. But it really isn’t that significant when you not only deal with your personal issues with your daughter, but when you see what other families are going through in ICU.
I had the opportunity to meet quite a few families in the ICU, and it put a lot of things in perspective on what’s really important in life. It gave me a new perspective, and my approach to my life is different now.
When you’re in the hospital all night, you’re not watching sports. You’re not paying attention to anything.
I wasn’t even thinking about basketball, to be honest. But I got great support from people in basketball.
I have to really complement the Boston Celtics for their support in the form of phone calls, care packages, and (Kevin) Garnett and those guys sending flowers. And, of course, I have to thank the Phoenix Suns.
(President of Basketball Operations) Lon (Babby), (Suns GM) Lance (Blanks) and (Suns Managing Partner) Robert (Sarver), as well as my teammates, all reached out to us. For me, the most emotional part was seeing the support that people showed from all over.
The Tejas 13-and-under volleyball team that my daughter plays for went to Denver for a tournament and wrote her name on their wrists, wore her favorite color, purple, painted their fingernails purple and went out and won the tournament. When it was over, they sent her a picture back of the team holding up her jersey.
We also had so many balloons from supporters that we had to donate a lot of them to other kids. And the Children’s Hospital in Boston did a fantastic job on giving us our privacy.
If you had to go through a situation like that, then that’s the way you want to go through it. I really feel appreciative that so many people took time out of their personal lives and their personal issues to focus on me and my family.
So when I stepped off the plane yesterday in Phoenix, I felt different. The stress of being in the hospital and going back and forth all day was gone.
It was easy for me to come in and work out. It felt good to be around the guys today.
That medicine of being around the guys and not being in an environment that is as stressful, makes you feel better.
Like volleyball is my daughter’s medicine, basketball is mine.