Shaquille O’Neal’s Sister, Ayesha Harrison-Jex, Dies From Cancer

Ayesha Harrison-Jex, the sister of basketball great Shaquille O’Neal tragically died from cancer on Thursday.

TNT’s “Inside the NBA” sent their condolences to O’Neal, who was with his family in Florida and not on the show. The NBA Hall of Famer is part of the popular team that provides analysis before and during games on TNT.

“Ernie, Kenny, Charles & Commissioner Silver’s thoughts are with the O’Neal family,” NBA on TNT wrote on Twitter.

The show’s lead television voice Ernie Johnson announced her passing during the Thursday evening show, he said O’Neal’s heart is breaking tonight.

“His [O’Neal] world revolves around his brother and two sisters, and he lost one of his sisters this morning, far too early at the age of 40, from cancer,” Johnson said on the evening show. “O’Neil is back in Orlando to be with his family.”

Harrison-Jex was diagnosed with cancer three years ago, and Johnson said O’Neal has a difficult time handling the loss of his sister.

“I’m trying to put into words the way Shaquille has reacted to this, and he is struggling. And when he struggles, we struggle with him because he’s one of our brothers,” Johnson said.

Charles Barkley said he feels for him in this family tragedy and wants to send a special shout-out to O’Neal’s mom, Lucille, who was best friends with his mom for 30 years.

“When my mom passed past away, she [Lucille] came and spent her last few days with my mom,” Barkley said. “I can never thank her enough for everything she did for my mom.”

Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal
(L-R) Basketball player Shaquille O’Neal, sportscaster Ernest Johnson Jr., basketball player Kenny Smith and basketball player Charles Barkley speak onstage at Fall Out Boy takes the stage at American Express All-Star Live at Hammerstein Ballroom broadcast live on TNT to tip-off NBA All-Star 2015 in New York City on Feb. 12, 2015. (Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for American Express)

Kenny Smith said O’Neal is a big family guy. “We always see his kids, his family, always around,” the retired two-time NBA championship winner with the Houston Rockets said.

“One of the most difficult things about being close to someone and working with them this many years is you get to know them and their family and their friends so you hurt so much more,” Smith said.

O’Neal responded to the warm words from Johnson, Barkley, and Smith in a tweet.

“Thanks for the condolences and the love. If I had older brothers, it would be you 3,” O’Neal wrote on Twitter.

Harrison-Jex struggled with cancer before and was diagnosed at the age of 23 with cancer behind her ear, close to her lymph nodes.

Her mother, Lucille, said of the many stories for which she praises God, a key one is for the healing of her youngest daughter [Ayesha], she told CBN.

“This was very hard for me,” Lucille told the outlet. “When someone has cancer it is just tough to deal with for anyone, especially a loved one. It is hard to be the caretaker because you feel so helpless,” she said.

Harrison-Jex leaves behind her beloved family and 13-year-old son Bryce Harrison, who is also interested in basketball as his uncle and was recently named as middle school player of the year, she wrote proudly on Twitter.

Epoch Times reporter Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.