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Shaq opens up about his divorce: “It was all me”

Shaquille O’Neal opens up about his divorce with ex-wife Shaunie Nelson, pointing the blame on himself, and speaking only kind things about his four children’s mother.

reem Abdalazem
Shaquille O’Neal opens up about his divorce with ex-wife Shaunie Nelson, pointing the blame on himself, and speaking only kind things about his four children’s mother.
New York Daily News ArchiveNY Daily News via Getty Images

Shaquille O’Neal, the legendary Basketball Hall of Famer, spoke about his divorce for the first time since 2011, saying his failed marriage was entirely his fault.

During an appearance on “The Pivot Podcast,” O’Neal spoke about how his ex-wife Shaunie Nelson was an “awesomewife, and that she filed for divorce because he was not treating her right.

Shaq on his divorce: “It was all me”

It was all me,” said O’Neal. “We don’t need to talk about what I was doing, but I wasn’t protecting her and protecting those vows. Sometimes you live that double life and get caught up. I’m not going to say it was her. It was all me.”

The 50-year-old Hall of Famer, who is now an analyst on the “Inside the NBA” studio show, kept taking the blame fully as he continued to emphasize that Nelson “did exactly what she was supposed to do,” as a supportive wife, he said. “Take care of the kids. Take care of the house. Take care of corporate stuff. It was just all me.”

O’Neal and Nelson got married back in 2002 and had four children, in addition to his ex-wife’s son from an earlier relationship. They were together until 2009, when they officially separated, and their divorce was finalized in 2011, O’Neal’s last season playing in the NBA.

O’Neal also has a daughter from his previous relationship.

O’Neal admitted to being “greedy”

“The best feeling was coming home and hearing five or six different voices. I was just being greedy,” O’Neal said. “I had the perfect situation. Wife was finer than a mug. I had it all. I don’t make excuses. I know I messed up. I was lost. In a 76,000-square-foot house by myself, lost… No kids. Go to the gym, nobody’s playing. You go to their room, nobody’s there. You start to feel it.”

O’Neal works for his six babies

Once O’Neal was able to gather himself, he said, he decided he wanted to be a protector and provider for his family, including his ex-wife.

“I may not be a husband, but I’ll always be a father ... I have two   — I have two wonderful women that haven given me beautiful, gorgeous children. I have to protect and I have to provide and I have to love for them forever. That’s why I have to work so hard. I don’t work for me. I got it all. I got to work for them. I got to work for my six babies.”

O’Neal glad he was asked about his divorce

As the conversation kept going about O’Neal’s past experience, the 50-year-old made sure to tell the hosts of “The Pivot Pod”, Channing Crowder, former NFL linebacker; Ryan Clark, former NFL defensive back and ESPN analyst; and Fred Taylor, former running back, that he appreciated them asking about this.

“I never talk about this,” he said. “I’m glad you guys asked because I don’t mind talking about this.”

Shaquille O’Neal, NBA’s all-time greats

O’Neal was one of the NBA’s all-time greats. He began his career with the Orlando Magic (1992-96) after being drafted out of Louisiana State. He then joined Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers to win three championships with them during 1996-2004. He ended his prime with Miami (2004-08) only to win another ring with the Heat.

In 2011, O’Neal retired from the NBA as a 15-time All-Star, with four NBA titles, three Finals MVPs and one regular-season MVP.


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