Shaquille O’Neal’s 40-year-old sister dies of cancer; his co-hosts pay tribute

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Former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal, 47, is in mourning after his sister, Ayesha Harrison-Jex, died after battling cancer.

O’Neal was scheduled to host an event at Miles College in Fairfield, Alabama, but had to cancel due to the death of his sister, according to the school.

O’Neal, who is a host on TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” was absent from Thursday night’s episode, and his co-hosts addressed O’Neal’s absence.

“We have to tell you why you’re not seeing Shaquille O’Neal here on the set tonight,” co-host Ernie Johnson said. “Basically, the ‘Big Fella,’ who I’ve described as the biggest kid in the world, his heart is breaking tonight. He said his world revolves around his brother and two sisters, and he lost one of his sisters this morning.”

Johnson said on the broadcast that Harrison-Jex, 40, had been battling cancer for three years. She will be buried at a military cemetery next to her father and O’Neal’s stepfather, Phillip Harrison.

“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.”

The 15-time NBA All-Star is in Orlando with his family, according to Johnson.

“Thanks for the condolences and the love,” O’Neal wrote in response on Twitter. “If I had older brothers, it would be you 3. Love y’all and love you more Candice.”

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