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.
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.