Jermaine O'Neal to miss Kings game to be with grieving family

December, 4, 2009
12/04/09
10:24
PM ET
By J.A. Adande

Miami Heat center Jermaine O’Neal said he will miss the game Sunday in Sacramento and might be away from the team for up to a week in order to be in South Carolina with his family after they decided to take his ailing uncle off of life support.

O’Neal said his uncle had checked into the hospital with what he thought was pneumonia, then his vital organs began failing him. O’Neal already has returned home once to see him, making it back just two hours before a game against the Washington Wizards on Nov. 27. Since then there have been a series of emotionally draining phone calls with family members, culminating with Friday’s decision to turn off the machines that are keeping his uncle alive. O’Neal said the process will happen Saturday. O’Neal will leave Los Angeles, where the Heat played the Lakers Friday night, on Saturday, and return to Columbia, S.C., but does not expect to be there when his uncle takes his final breath.

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