Asjia O’Neal is a college volleyball player who’s well known for fighting through adversity and overcoming difficult circumstances. She had a stroke in the fifth grade, struggled with her dad passing away when she was ten years old, and has been blind since birth. Despite these obstacles, Asjia’s resilience made her into one of the most talented athletes in NCAA history.
Asjia O’Neal is a volleyball player for the NCAA Division I team, the Florida State Seminoles. Asjia’s parents are both former professional athletes, and her father was also an Olympian.
On an SPRING day in Austin, Texas, Asjia O’Neal strolled into the Heart Hospital of Austin for her cardiology appointment, a twice-yearly ritual she had followed for the most of her life. She changed into a hospital gown, laid down, and a nurse performed an echocardiography and an EKG, which were tests to assess her heart’s rhythm and shape, as well as its electrical impulses. While waiting for her doctor, she struck up a conversation with DeAnn Koehler, the physical trainer for the Texas volleyball team, who had driven her to the hospital. They discussed the weather and the impending 2019 season, when O’Neal, a 6-foot-3 middle blocker, would make her Longhorns debut after redshirting her freshman year.
Her doctor walked into the room, clutching her test results. He started, “There have been some adjustments.”
“Volleyball is no longer safe for you to play.”
The doctor explained that O’Neal’s mitral valve leak had worsened, a condition she was born with that redirected blood back into her atrium instead of out to her ventricle, a condition that forced her heart to work extra hard to pump enough blood in the right direction, and a condition that she had already undergone one surgery to correct. Volleyball’s intensity was also placing too much strain on her cardiovascular system. O’Neal couldn’t keep going because it was too risky.
Following that, O’Neal tuned out every word her doctor said to her. Her jaw was clamped shut as she gazed at him blankly. She could see Koehler’s lips move, but she couldn’t understand a word of what her trainer was saying to her doctor.
She overheard the doctor asking whether she would explore other, less strenuous activities a few minutes later. Golf or cricket, perhaps? She couldn’t get the courage to answer.
She rose up and went with Koehler to the vehicle in quiet.
Mesha O’Neal heard only weeping when O’Neal phoned her mother from the sidewalk when she returned to college. Asjia paused to catch her breath before recounting how a regular checkup had turned into a nightmare.
Mesha screamed into the phone, “We’re going to seek a second opinion.” “You hear me? We’re not going to accept what one doctor says and run with it.”
Asjia hung up and staggered to her dorm room, where Jhenna Gabriel and Logan Eggleston, her teammates and friends, awaited her.
They inquired, “How did it go?”
O’Neal sobbed and remembered as she broke into sobs again, cradling her face.
She underwent open-heart surgery at the age of 13 in order to compete at the top level in the sport she loved. Seven years later, just as she was poised to make an impact at one of the top schools, the one thing she so wanted to avoid was staring her in the face: a life without volleyball.
“We’ll work it out,” Gabriel said as he handed O’Neal a piece of chocolate cake from the Longhorns’ final-day-of-spring-training celebration.
It would have been difficult to predict at the time, but that dreary hospital visit would turn out to be an occasion for chocolate cake. The doctor triggered a chain reaction that day by recognizing that O’Neal’s faulty valve had deteriorated, which might lead to celebrations for years to come. His advice to stop playing volleyball only increased O’Neal’s drive to continue on the field, forcing Asjia and her family to search for other options. That would need yet another open-heart surgery as well as a grueling recuperation. That stronger-than-ever heart would aid in the development of a more powerful athlete, one who will offer Texas a chance to win an elusive third NCAA volleyball title this month. And that liberated athlete would become a much more powerful figure in venues well beyond the Gregory Gymnasium of the Texas Longhorns.
Asjia spent last Christmas with her dog, Saks; brother, Jermaine Jr.; father, Jermaine; and mother, Mesha. Asjia O’Neal/Getty Images
ASJIA O’NEAL HAS ALWAYS PERFORMED IN MAJOR AREAS. Jermaine O’Neal, her father, was in the midst of an 18-year NBA career when she was a child. O’Neal was awarded the league’s most improved player in 2002, two years after Asjia was born, dazzling fans with his outgoing demeanor and tantalizing potential with the Indiana Pacers. He brought Asjia to almost every game, and by the time she could walk and speak, she was on TV, in her father’s arms, congratulating him on his accomplishments.
Asjia was a “large baby” when she came with a mitral valve leak, which required frequent cardiology consultations and monitoring, according to Jermaine. Doctors informed the O’Neal family, however, that Asjia could have a normal life.
She started holding her bottle at the age of two months, with “these gigantic hands,” according to Jermaine, and walked and spoke before she turned one, at the age of eight months.
She liked watching her father, a six-time NBA All-Star, play basketball as a kid. After fourth grade, she begged him to train her over the summer, but something didn’t seem right. It didn’t seem like this was her game, or that this was her destiny.
Aside from basketball, Asjia resembled her father in almost every aspect. Asjia rushed around their Miami home doing one-handed cartwheels the day before participating in her fourth-grade spelling bee championship. “Asjia, you need to sit down and study for the spelling bee if you want to have any chance of winning it,” Jermaine stated. “Dad, I’m going to win it,” Asjia exclaimed halfway through a cartwheel. She stepped out on stage the following day and won the title, spelling “vegetable” for the championship.
Jermaine said, “I had tears in my eyes.” “I simply remember constantly saying, ‘I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that,’ and Asjia is a carbon copy of me.”
After the O’Neals relocated to Dallas, where volleyball was a widely popular sport, Asjia fell in love with the sport in 2012, when she was in seventh school. Two girls asked her whether she’d ever considered playing volleyball on one of her first days of school. She tested out for the school’s B team that day and was accepted (the school had an A, B and C team). Volleyball’s regulations were “strange,” but she like the intensity, the chance to work closely with her teammates when the ball was in the air, and the game’s pace.
Asjia’s hand-eye coordination was flawless even before she understood the game’s complexities, and her height — she was 5-10 at the age of 12 — made her an instant juggernaut.
Just when she was starting to believe this may be her sport, she got some surprising news at a cardiology checkup in Boston: her mitral valve leak had worsened in the previous year. Her physicians advised her parents that the intensity of her volleyball training was the most probable culprit.
To stem the leaking, she required a ring inserted around her mitral valve. She required open-heart surgery when she was 13 years old.
Jermaine and Mesha were sent into a tailspin by the news, but Asjia took a more direct approach. “Let’s just get it out of the way,” she added.
Asjia arrived in Boston for her first open-heart surgery in March 2013, two months after receiving the alarming news.
Jermaine O’Neal told the Boston Herald at the time, “My daughter… has a shot to be one of the finest volleyball players in the nation.” “College coaches are phoning about her already.” Her heart is working too hard because of a leaking valve. I’m certain that everything will go well.
“She isn’t referring to a surgical procedure. Her mother and I are discussing surgery, but she is discussing volleyball.”
Asjia was operated on for five hours, with the surgeons halting the leak and then sealing her chest. She’d have to take a six-week break before being allowed to play again. Her chest bones had to be monitored for another six weeks before they were totally mended.
“She probably wouldn’t have needed it if she didn’t participate in athletics,” Mesha said. “However, she need it in order to participate in athletics.”
It’s all a haze to Asjia now. “I was very inexperienced. I recall healing fast and then going out and playing and feeling fantastic.”
She was back on the volleyball court as soon as she was cleared to play. She got her first college letter from LSU when she was 14 years old. Her enthusiasm intensified when she spotted Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott at many of her matches when she was 15. She was aware of Texas’ success and wanted to take part in it. During her sophomore year, she committed to the Longhorns.
Coaches were astounded by her instincts on the floor.
“‘How do you [know]?’ I’ve always asked. ‘I don’t know, I just know,’ she says. It simply occurs because I know how to do it.’” Mesha remarked.
She was athletic to the core, yet she had such elegance and flow.
“She’s a maestro,” Asjia’s club coach, Ping Cao, remarked.
Asjia assumed her medical problems were behind her as her future started to take form. Her heart was stronger, her organs were functioning better, and she was able to participate in the sport she loved.
She had no idea that her chest would be sawed open once again. And the situation was significantly worse this time.
With her amazing anticipation, hand-eye coordination, and fluid mobility, Asjia O’Neal, who stands 6-foot-3, has amazed coaches and vexed opponents. ESPN’s Michael Starghill
“SOMETHING IS WRONG, MOTHER. I’m not sure I’m up to it, “During her redshirt freshman year at Texas in 2019, Asjia told Mesha over the phone during one of her first spring practice sessions.
Her first week of training had been a hardship, and she had barely managed to remain on the court. Texas played at a far higher level than she was accustomed to, but all the other freshmen had done it before her, so why couldn’t she?
Practice lasted four hours, and she couldn’t get through it at least once a week, becoming so dizzy that she had to be taken off the court. Long aerobic workouts, such as treadmill jogging or cycling, were out of the question. She could run for 10 minutes before becoming light-headed at her peak.
She had a congenital heart disease, but she didn’t want to use it as an excuse, so she pushed herself to the limit, sometimes to the point of exhaustion, until Koehler observed her struggle and forced her off the court.
“She refused to recognize that her heart [condition] hindered her from performing things that other people could do with ease,” Mesha said.
Asjia’s echo and EKG findings revealed nothing unusual, leading her to doubt herself even more.
“They’re like, ‘Oh, it’s the same as it’s always been,’” O’Neal said of the physicians. “And I’m thinking, ‘Well, then, why am I feeling this way?’”
During practice, O’Neal’s colleagues donned heart monitors to monitor her heart and compare her to those who did not have a cardiac issue. The monitors showed how hard her heart had to work in order for her to be able to play.
O’Neal’s doctor warned her on the final day of spring training that she shouldn’t play volleyball anymore. Her worsening illness had gone unnoticed by prior testing.
The O’Neals sprang into action right away. Jermaine, who was diagnosed with an abnormal heartbeat in 2013, contacted every NBA doctor he knew to offer his daughter the finest care possible. They had an appointment at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio three days later, which has routinely scored first in cardiac care in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals rankings. The physicians in Austin agreed that she could play the rest of the season, but she would have to see a cardiologist specialist every three months in Austin, and the findings would have to be communicated with her Cleveland Clinic doctors.
Jermaine got an urgent call from Asjia’s doctor in November, only days after the family had delivered Asjia’s latest findings to Cleveland Clinic — the evening Texas played Oklahoma.
Asjia needs to travel to Cleveland for an MRI as soon as possible. Her cardiac condition has become a lot worse.
“I had no clue since it was the same procedure — some days I’d feel horrible, other days I’d feel better,” Asjia, who hit.413 and averaged 1.48 kills per set during the first 19 matches of the 2019 season, said. “However, I reasoned that this may just be the reality of my participation in athletics.”
“Wait, am I going to miss my next game?” Asjia wondered when Jermaine informed her they’d have to go to Cleveland.
Her physicians validated the O’Neal family’s suspicions after a day of grueling testing, which included putting dye into her heart to examine the direction of blood flow and other athletic tests to monitor her heart at the greatest activity levels.
Another open-heart surgery was required. Her mitral valve leak had increased, and they had discovered a second leak in her tricuspid valve on top of that.
“When athletes exercise, they turn their cardiac output, or circulation, into a number that is multiplied by at least five times, if not more. For an athlete, instead of pumping at five liters per minute, the heart would pump at 20 liters per minute “O’Neal’s operation was done by Dr. Hani Najm. “[Asjia] couldn’t perform because her heart couldn’t [sustain] at that intensity.”
“I just want to continue the season,” Asjia stated to her parents as soon as the physicians left the room. It’s just a month till the end of the year. Nothing bad will happen to me.
“I’m not going to die on the court,” he says.
“Could she complete the season?” they questioned nearly simultaneously as they entered Najm’s office.
Asjia remembers Najm stating, “Yes, she can complete the season.” “She’s had what she has for more than a year.”
She stayed with her squad until the Longhorns were defeated in the NCAA regionals by Louisville on Dec. 13, when she hit.778 with seven kills and five blocks.
O’Neal stepped into Cleveland Clinic in a green dressing gown a month after Texas’ season ended, preparing to have her heart sliced open — again.
The Longhorns have been known to get a shock of emotion from O’Neal. Athletics at the University of Texas
O’Neal was taken into the operating room on Jan. 14, 2020, two months before the epidemic shut down the nation, with her parents, brother, Koehler, and coach Elliott by her side. O’Neal had felt in command up until that morning. She kept reminding herself, “I’ve done this before, and this, too, will pass.” Nervousness weighed over her like a thick blanket as the operation date approached. Doctors had informed her the day before that recuperation would be more difficult this time. They were reopening the same incision and cutting into her chest with a bone saw since she was no longer 13 years old.
O’Neal thought to himself, “That makes me ill.”
Before being taken away, she embraced her family, coach, and trainer. O’Neal recalls hearing “Started from the Bottom” as she went under, a song that nurses chose for her after she informed them she liked Drake.
O’Neal had outgrown the mitral valve ring that had been implanted during her initial open-heart surgery. Mesha recalled Dr. Najm replacing it with the “largest ring” he’d ever “put on a lady before.” He also prevented the tricuspid valve from leaking. While her heart was halted so Najm could replace her valves, Asjia was linked up to a heart-lung machine to keep her blood flowing.
Najm made an interesting judgment in Asjia’s case. Najm re-repaired her mitral valve, eliminating fibrous tissues surrounding the valve before installing the larger ring, rather than opening up her heart to replace the valve with a prosthetic one, as would be the standard in instances like hers.
“I know her lifestyle and her profession, and if I replaced her valve with a prosthetic one, she’d have to commit to further surgery,” Najm said. “As an athlete, I didn’t want her to have to take blood thinners.”
“It’s a success,” he declared as he stepped out of surgery almost five hours later.
“I felt like I had created a good piece of art that will survive a long time,” he remarked. “She won’t realize how horrible she felt until she feels as happy as she is about to feel.”
The clock in front of her bed read 10 p.m. when O’Neal awakened, and her throat was on fire. She hadn’t drank a drink of water in over a day (according to doctor’s instructions), and she wouldn’t be able to do so for a while. When she went around the hospital once with a walking aid, the doctors informed her she would be discharged.
Her parents had to sit her up on the first day following the procedure since she couldn’t sit up or activate her core in any manner. She experienced fluid accumulation in her chest, which is common after surgery, but she had to cough it out by using her core.
“They’d constantly attempt to get me to cough stuff out, but coughing hurts so much since my chest is damaged,” O’Neal said.
She eventually got up and took a few steps with assistance on the second day. She was able to walk farther on the third day. On the fourth day, she was able to complete one circle with her assistance. Her discharge papers were signed by the physicians.
She had been planning her return all along.
O’Neal has a career.390 hitting percentage at Texas and was averaging 1.92 kills per set before the NCAA tournament this season. Athletics at the University of Texas
ASJIA O’NEAL FLYS HIGH IN THE SKY, but Jhenna Gabriel’s set is tight. The referee blows the whistle as she nudges the ball over the goal. A violation has been reported. Oklahoma is a case in point. Texas’ advantage has shrunk to just one point, 22-21. The scoreboard showed 22-17 only a few minutes ago. It’s now anyone’s game.
The crowd at Gregory Gym, which has a capacity of 4,295 for the game versus Oklahoma on November 11, 2021, bursts in booing. Texas had just lost their first match of the season against Baylor in Waco a week ago, and there’s still some concern in the air.
What was that about, O’Neal asks the official who made the call, her face twisted up and her hands wide open? Elliott approaches the referee with his mask half-down to speak with him. He then summons captain Logan Eggleston to come over and investigate the call.
As she pushed the ball over, O’Neal’s right foot landed on the Sooners’ side of the goal. Oklahoma is a case in point.
“She seems sad,” Mesha, Asjia’s mother, says from the bleachers behind the Oklahoma side of the court. (Mesha has only missed one home game all season, and she sent her parents over to see her daughter play on that particular day.)
O’Neal scores a kill on an Oklahoma over-pass on the following point. She glances at her opponents, her hand wide out, a careless shrug, wearing No. 7, the same number her father wore for the most of his career. As she moves up to her teammates for a high-five, her hair blazes behind her. Following that, O’Neal stops the Oklahoma assault, resulting in a Texas victory of 24-21.
Gabriel and O’Neal connect on a brilliant slide attack on Texas’ second set point, with the crowd on their feet, and a grin eventually creeps over O’Neal’s face as she scores the set-clinching kill.
“She’s the greatest hype guy on the court,” Eggleston added, “and you can see every emotion on her face.” “She contributes a lot of vitality to the squad, and we get a lot of energy from her.”
It’s easy to forget while seeing O’Neal on the volleyball court that she couldn’t even sit up 22 months ago, much alone raise her whole body to make a kill. She stayed at home in Dallas for six weeks following her operation, gradually regaining strength. The coronavirus epidemic shut down sports shortly after she was allowed to return to the gym. She went home and continued to work with Koehler over the phone to reconstruct the soft tissue in her chest. Jermaine had built a home gym and preferred to workout on her own schedule. She built her cardiovascular strength by walking on the treadmill, then jogging, and finally jogging on an incline. She also conducted band work and mobility exercises to improve her core strength.
“I spoke to [her doctor] a lot, possibly more than she realizes,” Jermaine added. “Was there anything we should be on the lookout for, or should we pull her back on?”
“Look, she can go as far as she wants to go; she’s perfectly OK to push herself,” he remarked.
It was difficult to assess how far O’Neal had progressed in her recovery since she exercised alone at home. She could evaluate how she compared to her colleagues when she returned to university in July 2020. She could push herself to run on the treadmill for 30 minutes, something she couldn’t have imagined accomplishing before surgery. She was “blowing through it, defeating people in races” until the squad started undertaking fitness and agility training in the sand, according to O’Neal. Even a lengthy warm-up activity, which includes yoga poses like downward dog, sugarcane, and bow position, would leave her exhausted before the operation. She could now do the full workout at her resting heart rate.
She contacted her mother weeping after her first sand exercise that summer. “I can’t believe you guys feel like this all the time,” she said Mesha. “Is this it? I’ve been battling for a long time, and this is how everyone else feels after working out?”
Koehler stated: “Before the operation, she was only able to play at a 60 percent level. She’s now in her early nineties.”
The rest of the team was taken aback.
Gabriel remembers telling O’Neal, “You just had your entire chest exposed, and you’re already back.” “Like it was just — it was insane,” she said.
Skylar Fields and O’Neal were two of five Longhorns chosen to the first team of the Big 12 volleyball conference. Logan Eggleston, a teammate, was selected conference player of the year. Athletics at the University of Texas
O’Neal has emerged as a leader for Texas, which finished second in the national championship race behind Kentucky a year ago. In 2020, she didn’t miss a game after resuming play eight months after surgery and ending with 222 kills and 113 blocks. She entered the NCAA tournament with 152 kills and 95 blocks, and Elliott believes the Longhorns will need her to overcome their championship drought, which runs back to 2012. The Longhorns (25-1) are the No. 2 overall seed and swept Sacred Heart at home to start the tournament. They previously advanced to the NCAA championships in 2015 and 2016. Rice (20-6) is up next on Friday.
“Maybe more than anybody on our squad, she has the potential to influence [the team’s] personality,” Elliott said. “She can be a little fiery and competitive, which is exactly what we need.”
ON A SUNNY November day in Austin, O’Neal sits at an outside table at Civil Goat Coffee, one of her favorite cafés, wearing a burnt orange Texas long-sleeve shirt, bandana, and black sweatpants. She tells her narrative in between bites of her banana and strawberry protein bowl, her hands moving animatedly as she recalls her travels. Mesha is sitting next to her, eating a salad, and despite the fact that she is well-versed in Asjia’s narrative, she is paying careful attention, nodding sometimes, and contributing her two cents here and there.
Asjia sets down her spoon, her gel manicure (with a white squiggly line pattern) glinting in the sunshine, as she closes up the account of her second operation. She lifts her top and points to three healed holes spread evenly under her chest. During the procedure, three tubes were placed into the holes to collect fluid that builds up during open-heart surgery.
Her doctor strolled in on her final day at the hospital and remarked, “This is going to hurt,” as he prepared to remove the tubes. She recalled how painful this was after her first operation, and the tubes were larger this time. She clutched her mother’s hands tightly. She’d have to be awake, with no anesthetic to take the edge off the agony. Her chest erupted in anguish as she felt the tube exit her body, tears flowing down her cheeks. The doctor returned after a little pause, and then again. O’Neal inhaled deeply, her lungs full with pure air without being obstructed by the tubes.
She was scared to display her scars to the public after her first operation. She was in middle school and didn’t want her peculiarities to be noticed. However, she now welcomes them, both on social media and in person.
“I’m proud of the moment, and I’m only getting back from it, so I’ll wear anything I want now. I don’t care if [my scars] are visible, I’m going to show them off “According to O’Neal. “I believe it is critical that I relate my experience and admit that it occurred. I’m a better person as a result of that.”
Near the conclusion of the phrase, O’Neal’s voice becomes louder, as if she genuinely wants everyone to hear her. A fan approaches and interrupts our discussion. “I simply wanted to say hello when I heard the term “volleyball.” Texas is one of my favorite teams to watch “he declares
She smiles sweetly and says, “Thank you.”
O’Neal says she’s honored to serve as an example for Black female volleyball players. USA TODAY Sports/Steven Branscombe
Following the death of George Floyd, O’Neal felt compelled to speak up. She convened sessions with her colleagues and the volleyball coaching staff. She said that things have to change at the University of Texas and in America. She has a younger brother, and he might face the same fate as George Floyd. This was inexcusable.
“It was incredible to see her talk — she didn’t seem to care whether she offended anybody,” Gabriel remarked. “She stated exactly what had to be said.”
The Longhorns’ Black Lives Matter video campaign was organized by O’Neal. “Until Black lives count, all lives don’t matter,” she says in the video, staring straight at the camera.
She astonished herself by not only leading her team in racial justice discussions, but also bringing such discussions to additional UT communities. Her presence on campus aided in the implementation of significant improvements. The Physics, Math, and Astronomy Building was renamed after Robert Lee Moore Hall, which was named after a mathematician who was infamous for his harsh treatment of African American students at Texas. A monument commemorating Heman M. Sweatt, the first Black student accepted to the UT Law School, will also be erected at the university. Sweatt fought and won a Supreme Court lawsuit that cleared the way for desegregation at colleges and institutions throughout the nation. UT also dedicated a monument to Julius Whittier, the Longhorns’ first Black football letterman, and renamed Joe Jamail Field at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium to Campbell-Williams Field, in honor of Texas’ two Black Heisman Trophy running backs, Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams.
O’Neal, like many other outspoken athletes, received outrage on social media, with comments like “I’m never going to purchase a ticket again” on her page.
“Do anything you want with your money if that’s how you feel,” O’Neal adds matter-of-factly. “We have a mission and we’re sticking to it, and if that offends you, you’re free to disagree, but get on the train or get off the train.”
O’Neal was honored with the Honda Inspiration Award in June, which is granted to student-athletes who have overcome tremendous physical and/or emotional challenges.
Jermaine, who went directly from high school to the NBA, stated, “Asjia is a spitting image of me, but she is better — a lot better version of myself.” “She is more suited at 22 years old, and she can utilize her voice to make the world a better place. Be forceful about what she believes in as an African American, Black woman, and talk about it in an informed manner. She performs it at such a high level that it astounds me. ‘Asjia, you’re exceptional, because you’re much more than simply a volleyball player,’ I told her just yesterday.”
Asjia will get her master’s degree in sport administration while continuing to play volleyball at Texas (she finished her undergraduate degree in corporate communications in three years). She then aspires to play professionally in another country. But, above all, she wants to encourage young girls, particularly young Black girls, to believe that everything is possible. She gets comments on social media from Black moms telling her that their children want to play volleyball after seeing her on the court.
“Seeing small girls approach me from all walks of life, not just white girls, and say things like, ‘Oh my god, I’m so motivated to be like you.’ Your group is fantastic. I like seeing individuals who look like you,’ says the author “According to O’Neal.
“I believe simply having that visual for young girls is great, regardless of my successes on the court.”
The O’Neals were in Waco the weekend before Texas took on Oklahoma to see Asjia play Baylor. As Jermaine sat in the bleachers, he surveyed the throng for Asjia’s face and jersey number, which were strewn across the stands. Jermaine was presented to two families who had come from Indianapolis and Kansas City. “We travelled down here solely to see your kid,” one of the parents said. Asjia’s performance was crucial for their girls.
“To be placed in that situation after all the long days and nights… that’s unique,” Jermaine remarked.
To put it gently, her father was upset. In a more visceral sense, Asjia was prepared to open her heart twice to be sure of it.
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Asjia O’Neal is a college volleyball player who has been fighting cancer since she was 12. Despite the odds, she has continued to play volleyball and excel in school. Reference: asjia o’neal father.
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