Skip to main content

“I wasn’t protecting her and protecting those vows” Shaquille O’Neal opens up about his divorce and mistakes

Shaquille O'Neal recently opened up about his vices in the past and how this led to a brutal divorce with his wife
Shaquille O’Neal opens up about his divorce and mistakes

O'Neal recently opened up about his vices in the past and how this led to a brutal divorce with his wife Shaunie Nelson in 2011

There have been many instances where an NBA player gets all caught up in the hype and lavish lifestyle they live that they take advantage of during their career. From parties to women and the temptations that come with making millions of dollars, these players end up succumbing to the fame of being a popular figure. NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal wasn't spared from this type of life.

O'Neal recently opened up about his vices in the past and how this led to a brutal divorce with his wife Shaunie Nelson in 2011. While the four-time champion didn't detail what went down, O'Neal took all the blame and admitted that it was he who messed up his marriage in the past.

"I was bad. I never talk about this but I'm glad you guys asked me because I don't mind talking about this but I was bad. She was awesome, she really was. It was all me because of what I was doing, we don't need to talk about what I did but I wasn't protecting her and protecting those vows. Sometimes you live that double life and you get caught up in it. I'm not going to say it was her, it was all me. She did exactly all she was supposed to do and gave me beautiful kids. She took care of the house, take care of the corporate stuff and it was just all me," O'Neal boldly confessed in his latest guesting at "The Pivot Podcast."

O'Neal realized his mistakes too late.

"Sometimes when you make a lot of mistakes like that, you know you really can't come back from that. As I get older and dwell on situations, I can honestly say it's all me," O'Neal said.

Shaq, who is a father to six children, married Nelson in 2002 while he played for the Los Angeles Lakers. The couple separated in 2007 but eventually reconciled in the same year. O'Neal did not learn from his mistakes as Nelson pushed for the divorce in 2009, which was finalized in 2011.

The couple had four kids together, including their son Shareef O'Neal (born in 2000), who hopes to follow his father's footsteps in the NBA one day.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

When asked about what he was going through at the time of his divorce, O'Neal was candid about how he lived a miserable life.

"Look, I was just being greedy. I had the perfect situation. Wife was finer than a mug. Kept me giving me babies, I had it all. I don't make excuses, I know I messed up. When I didn't have that, I was lost. In a Seventy-six thousand square meter house, I was lost. No kids, go to the gym nobody was playing in the gym, go to the room nobody was there. You start to feel it," O'Neal said.

"I'll always be a father."

Years after his divorce from Nelson, O'Neal said that he hadn't abandoned his kids. He acknowledged that he has finally learned from his mistakes and is doing his best right now to continue providing for his family. According to Diesel, the least he can do is be the best father figure for his six kids, who he vows to support, protect, and love.

"I said to myself, okay, you're not married, but you still have to protect and provide for this family. So get your ass up, man up let's go. What are you going to do next?" O'Neal said.

"I have two babies, I don't like using the word baby mamas, but I have two baby mamas and wonderful women that have given me beautiful gorgeous children that I have to protect and provide for. I have to love them forever, that's why I work so hard. I don't work for me, I got it all. I gotta work for my six babies," O'Neal added.

Currently, O'Neal seems to be walking his talk as he's involved in multiple business ventures post-retirement.

Aside from being a regular analyst for TNT'S "Inside the NBA" program, he's also an entertainment producer (he's part of the VH1'S "Basketball Wives" series production team), an actor, real-estate entrepreneur, and investor in a lot of businesses such as Five Guys Burgers, Auntie Annie's Pretzels, car wash outlets, and 24-hour fitness centers.

O'Neal's dedication to being a family man may not make up for all the horrible mistakes he's made to his wife and kids in the past, but at least he's learned from them. Hopefully, athletes living the same lifestyle O'neal once did learn a thing or two from his story. 

Dirk Nowitzki at the 1998 Nike Hoop Summit

"Between practices I had to get tutoring in a separate room" - Dirk Nowitzki used to bring a tutor with him while traveling with Germany's junior national team

Dirk Nowitzki revealed that he had to bring a private tutor with him during his days with Germany's junior national team as he had to play and study at the same time.

Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson

"Are you willing to come back and be a coachable player?"-How Phil Jackson talked to Kobe Bryant before they reunited in 2006

The time Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson spent apart from each other made them realize that they needed each other to accomplish their goals.

Denver Nuggets mascot Rocky

Denver Nuggets mascot Rocky outearns several NBA players

Denver Nuggets mascot Rocky is closer to making a million each year than some NBA players on minimum contracts.


“I know he’s a great locker room guy!”- Ben Wallace believes Darvin Ham will do great things with the Lakers

Darvin Ham and Ben Wallace won a title together and their bond will forever remain tight.

Reggie Miller doing the choke sign

Reggie Miller on talking to New York Knicks fans: 'They love to come up and do the choke sign. They think it’s so cool'

Reggie Miller said most Knicks fans still hate him and they let him know about it by doing doing his iconic choke taunt in 1995.

Michael Jordan more popular than Al Gore, Chelsea Clinton: Sesame Street poll

"I couldn’t do anything!" - Michael Jordan once named the only player he couldn't dominate

Michael Jordan loved the competition and he often dominated his rivals. But shockingly, he wasn't able to do so against one player.

The first time Larry Bird and Magic Johnson matched up in the NBA

Larry Bird pointed out his similarities with Magic Johnson: 'We were winners, there was no question about that'

Larry Bird talked about what he thinks were his similarities with his ultimate rival Magic Johnson.