The son of NBA hall of famer Shaquille O’Neal, Shareef O’Neal, is making a grand slam entrance into the world of crypto.
The student athlete at Louisiana State University signed a long-term name, image and likeness (NIL) deal with NFT Genius—a cryptocurrency start-up backed by the Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, actor Ashton Kutcher and other investors.
O’Neal, 21, will be releasing Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) as a part of NFT Genius’ BALLERZ collection, which includes 10,000 basketball-themed NFTs. The 6-foot-10 forward is using the project to share details about his personal life, in addition to his basketball career.
“I see NFTs as an innovative medium to bring fans along my life’s journey — to join me and my family through our own successes and struggles and bring awareness to causes that are important to me,” O’Neal said, according to Forbes.
He continued, “We want to reward everyone who secures my first NFTs that will reflect those things I am most passionate about — basketball, music, and giving back. We have a lot of surprises in store including winning signed memorabilia, free air drops, and access to some cool experiences with me and my family.”
O’Neal’s first NFT in the collection is scheduled to release on Dec. 13.
“It’s scary,” he told USA TODAY Sports. “It’s something I’ve thought about probably 100 times a day ever since it happened. Every time I change my shirt, I see this big scar.”
When Forbes asked him how he felt about NFTs when he was approached with the deal, he said he was excited and plans to use it as a platform to have a larger conversation about his health advocacy.
“I am here for it! I think NFTs are that new wave and it’s really a way give power to creators that want to innovate,” he told Forbes. “I can’t wait to use my NFTs to connect with fans and raise funds for a cause that I care about through my partnership with American Heart Association.”