Shareef O’Neal is seeing the spirit of Kobe Bryant in the clouds.
Earlier this week, the 20-year-old son of NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal shared a photo of what he believed looked like a cloud formed in the shape of the number eight — one of Bryant's famous jersey numbers — taking it as a sign from the late basketball great.
"I can’t believe I saw this today," the college basketball star captioned his photo of the cloud on Instagram. "It sent chills through my body .. it might be a stretch to some but I see it clear as day .. even the same font."
"Wow, so amazing #8 🕊🐍 WE MISS YOU," he added.
The number was the very first jersey number Bryant wore as a Los Angeles Laker. He later donned the number 24 during his career and is the only player in league history to have two jersey numbers retired with the same team.
Many social media commentators similarly agreed with Shareef's cloud interpretation, one user writing, "That’s definitely him," as another added, "He’s letting you know he’s ok!"
One more user wrote that Bryant was "speaking" to the young basketball star, as another shared that they "definitely" saw the cloud-shaped number.
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Shareef posted the same photograph on Twitter, and one user was quick to notice that there was perhaps another number in the picture, a two, which was the number that Bryant's daughter, Gianna — who died alongside him in the Jan. 26 plane crash — wore.
"Peep the 2 for GiGi bottom right," the user wrote as others replied that they too saw the cloud-shaped two.
Shaq, 48, and Bryant played together on the Lakers team for eight seasons from 1996-2004. The NBA star delivered a heartfelt tribute at Bryant’s celebration of life earlier this year, where he reflected on their friendship and the memorable moments they shared as Lakers teammates.
"When I ever imagined speaking to a group of people about Kobe Bryant, I usually pictured it in a context of a Hall of Fame induction or as a guest speaker at one of Kobe and Vanessa’s foundation events, but never did I imagine that I would be here speaking today … and it pains me to my core," he said at the time.
"Like all of you, I continue to be devastated over the loss of my friend, my little brother, Kobe Bryant and my beautiful niece Gigi," he continued. "All of us were forever changed on January 26."
Calling Bryant "a loyal friend and a true renaissance man," Shaq went on to discuss their “very complex relationship,” which he said wasn’t always what it seemed from the outside.
“Kobe and I pushed one another to play some of the greatest basketball of all time,” he explained, adding that he was proud to play alongside Bryant and be a part of the Lakers championship-winning legacy.
“Yeah, sometimes like immature kids, we argued, we fought, bantered, and made offhand remarks to each other, but make no mistake: even when folks thought we were on bad terms, when the cameras were turned off, he and I would throw a wink at each other and say 'Let’s go whoop some ass,'" he continued. "In truth, Kobe and I always maintained a deep respect and love for one another."
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