Shaq Gets Candid About Feeling ‘Lost’ Following Divorce From Shaunie O’Neal

Shaquille O'Neal speaking with Graham Bensinger
(Image credit: Graham Bensinger)

Shaquille O’Neal has lived quite a life. The Diesel is a beloved NBA veteran and hall of famer as well as a successful businessman and sports analyst. It’s safe to say he’s experienced plenty of highs throughout his life, though there have also been lows here and there as well. Something that Shaq has been candid about on occasion is his relationship with former wife Shaunie O’Neal and, now, he’s opening up about feeling “lost” after their split. 

Divorce can be a difficult thing for a number of people, and in Shaq’s case, it was particularly tough because it signified the end of a tight family unit. During an appearance on the Pivot podcast, the former Los Angeles Laker reflected on life with his former spouse and their kids, making note of the fun they had together. The basketball legend said that “the best feeling” was returning home from a tough game and “hearing five, six different voices” in the house. Ultimately, the media personality blames himself for the breakdown of that family dynamic: 

I was just being greedy. I had the perfect situation. My wife was finer than a mug, kept giving me babies, still finer than a mug. I had it all. And I don’t make excuses, I know I messed up. You know, when I didn’t have that … I was lost. Seventy-six thousand square foot house by yourself, lost. No kids, go to the gym, nobody's playing in the gym. You go to their room, nobody's there. You start to feel it.

Shaquielle O’Neal and Shaunie Nelson dated for two years before becoming engaged, and the couple married two years after that on December 26, 2002. The pair would have four children together, while both O’Neal and Nelson each had a child from a previous relationship as well. Nelson originally filed for divorce in 2007, though the two would reconcile shortly after. However, she filed once more in 2009, citing irreconcilable differences and sought sole custody of their four kids. The divorce was ultimately finalized in 2011. In the same interview, O’Neal expressed further regret regarding the split: 

You know when you get older, you try to think about the mistakes that you made that could have been avoided. Divorce is definitely one of them.

Today, however, he and his ex, a Basketball Wives alum, seem to have a firm relationship, Shaq himself also appears to have a better understanding of what one should do (and not do) in a relationship. As of late, the four-time NBA champion has been commenting on a number of famous couples. For instance, he’s shared thoughts on Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith while explaining what he’s “hearing on the streets” post-Oscars slap.

The sports icon also weighed in on Kanye West (who he doesn’t feel sorry for) and Kim Kardashian, including the former’s decision to buy a house in his ex’s neighborhood. The Orlando Magic alum even dropped thoughts on West’s beef with Pete Davidson, Kardashian’s new man. 

Whether he’s discussing his family, NBA greats like Michael Jordan and former rival Isiah Thomas or sharing life lessons with kids, it’s always interesting whenever Shaquille O’Neal speaks his mind. Time usually gives one a considerable amount of perspective, and that does indeed seem to be the case when it comes to Shaq.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.