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NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal's sister Ayesha Harrison-Jex died Thursday night after a prolonged battle with cancer.

Harrison-Jex, 40, was diagnosed with cancer in 2016. O'Neal's co-host Ernie Johnson announced the sad news during the TNT's Inside the NBA sports program on Thursday.

O'Neal was noticeably absent during the sports analyst program that normally features O'Neal alongside Johnson, Charles Barkley, Candace Parker and Kenny Smith.

"I'm trying to put into words the way Shaquille has reacted to this, and he's struggling," Johnson said. "And when he struggles, we struggle with him. Because he's one of our brothers and we feel for him tonight."

Johnson added that O'Neal, 47, is currently in Orlando, Florida, with his family.

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Barkley said kind words to O'Neal's mother, Lucille O'Neal, who was there for his family when his mother died.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who was on the show, also sent his condolences to the O'Neal family.

"It's times like this when we're all together," Silver said.

Shaquille tweeted, "Thanks for the condolences and the love. If I had older brothers, it would be you 3. Love y'all and love you more Candice."

Harrison-Jex leaves behind a son Bryce, according to Johnson. She will be laid to rest in a military cemetery and will be buried next to O’Neal’s stepfather, Sgt. Phillip Harrison.

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NBA superstar James Harden apologized to China on Monday for a tweet his general manager sent out on Friday. Unfortunately, his apology wasn't good enough.

The National Basketball League scrambled to get back on China's good side after the Chinese government blocked live broadcasts of NBA games on Monday. China was offended after Houston Rocket's general manager Daryl Morey tweeted that he chose democracy over Communism.

In the now-deleted tweet, Morey also supported Hong Kong, where pro-democracy demonstrators continue to protest in the streets against the pro-Chinese sector and the Hong Kong Police Force.

The Rockets are in Tokyo, Japan to play 2 pre-season exhibition games against NBA champions Toronto Raptors.

China banned live broadcasts of NBA pre-season games hours after Harden apologized for Morey's tweet.

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Harden, pictured left with teammate Russell Westbrook, said, "We apologize. You know, we love China. We love playing there. For both of us individually, we go there once or twice a year. They show us the most important love," Harden said.

He added: "We appreciate them as a fan base. We love everything there about them, and we appreciate the support that they give us individually and as [an] organization. We love you."

The Chinese government was further disappointed when NBA commissioner Adam Silver insisted he wouldn't gag owners or players from speaking their minds.

"The NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on these issues. We simply could not operate that way," Silver said in a statement on Tuesday.

Morey's tweet resulted in the NBA losing advertisers and lucrative sponsorships, including Tiffany's jewelry.

The normally very opinionated NBA superstar LeBron James has so far remained silent on the controversy.

Donald Sterling In George Orwell's classic novel 1984, citizens lived under constant threat of a totalitarian government that sought to control their thoughts -- even in the privacy of their own homes.

In his strongly worded piece for ESPN.com, sports writer Jason Whitlock examines the events that led to the downfall of billionaire Donald Sterling, the LA Clippers' octogenarian owner who became a victim of an invasion of privacy by a media conglomerate that threatens freedom of speech and the right to privacy.

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Reaction to Donald Sterling's Ban for Life from the NBA

The reaction to LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling's lifetime ban from the NBA was swift. NAB Commissioner Adam Silver, left, made the announcement earlier today during a live press conference.

In audio obtained by gossip tabloid TMZ.com, Sterling told his biracial girlfriend, Vanessa Stiviano, not to bring black men to his games -- including NBA legend Magic Johnson, with whom Stiviano had posed for an Instagram photo.

NBA stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and former great Magic Johnson posted their sentiments on their official Twitter accounts in the moments after the announcement.

LeBron thanked Silver for "protecting our beautiful and powerful league."

And Johnson tweeted, "Commissioner Silver showed great leadership in banning LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life."

SOme NBA players say they are not completely satisfied with the league's decision. They want the NBA board of governors to hold "an immediate vote" forcing Sterling to sell the Clippers team.

But a friend who spoke with Sterling today said he did not express a desire to sell the team at this time.

See more reactions after the break.

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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver

LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling is banned for life from NBA games, facilities, and meetings between team owners and, or players.

Sterling, 80, is also banned from his own team facility, meetings or game practices.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver made the announcement moments ago during a live press conference.

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