Shaquille O'Neal Took His Divorce From His Ex Shaunie Especially Hard

Shaquille O'Neal has only been married once, though it ended in divorce after seven years of marriage. The couple had spent many years together, but Shaq ended up blaming himself for the split due to his wild ways.

Shaq and Shaunie O'Neal's relationship had begun well before they walked down the aisle, as the two met shortly after the NBA legend's 1996 move to California upon signing with the Los Angeles Lakers. Shaq marked a new trend in Shaunie's partner preferences. "Shaquille was the very first athlete that I dated, and I grew up in L.A.," she told Houston's Majic 102.1 in 2010. 

The couple tied the knot in December 2002. By then, Shaq and Shaunie had two children together, Shareef and Amirah, born in January 2000 and November 2001. Shaunie was pregnant with Shaqir when she and Shaq said "I do," welcoming the baby boy four months later. Me'arah completed the family in May 2006, bringing their total number of children to six. Shaq already had a daughter, Taahirah, with his ex-girlfriend Arnetta Yardbourgh; Shaunie had a son, Myles, whom Shaq raised as his own. 

The marriage began to show signs of problems when their youngest was still a baby. In September 2007, Shaq filed for divorce, though he withdrew the petition the following year. But the couple couldn't fix the marriage. In November 2009, it was Shaunie's turn to file divorce paperwork. This time, it stuck. They reached a settlement in 2010 and went their separate ways. However, Shaq wishes he could go back in time and undo it.

Shaquille O'Neal takes full responsibility for the divorce

Shaquille O'Neal blames no one but himself for the demise of his marriage to Shaunie O'Neal. "I was bad," he said on The Pivot Podcast in April 2022. "She was awesome. She really was." Shaq has previously discussed engaging in extramarital affairs, suggesting they were the reason behind their split. "I admit it — I was a guy. I was a guy with too many options," he wrote in his 2011 memoir, "Shaq Uncut: My Story," released shortly after the divorce. 

At the time, Shaq somewhat downplayed his unfaithfulness, writing: "In my mind, I never did it disrespectfully, but obviously I shouldn't have done it at all." The four-time NBA champion has since changed his tune, taking accountability for the pain he caused with his actions. "As I get older and dwell on situations, I can honestly say it was all me," he told The Pivot Podcast's hosts.

Shaunie has also been open about the toll Shaq's infidelity took on her. In a 2017 episode of "Basketball Wives," Shaunie shared how she found out about Shaq's affairs — though she didn't use his name. "Our Blackberries got switched. I went to my baby's play at school and I was like, 'Damn, my phone is going off a lot.' Just girl, after girl, after girl,'" she revealed. Shaq now knows his behavior was the final straw. "When you make a lot of mistakes like that, you can't really come back from that," he said.

Shaquille O'Neal maintains a positive relationship with Shaunie

Shaunie and Shaquille O'Neal were able to put their differences aside and maintain a positive relationship for their children. "We have a great co-parenting relationship, seriously," she said on the Tamron Hall Show in 2021. Shaq is grateful that Shaunie let go of the hurt he caused her. "The good thing about our relationship is that [she] forgave me and we have a good relationship now," he said on MoTalk Radio with Monica in June.

However, getting to this point required a lot of work. "It took us a long time to get there; don't get me wrong, it was not an easy journey," Shaunie told Hall. Shaq and Shaunie learned to communicate in a way that felt genuine, helping them become support systems for each other. Shaunie even joked that she longed for the day Shaq would become serious with someone. "I used to tease him and be like, 'Could you please hurry up and get a wife? Then you can stop, you know, randomly FaceTiming me and talking about your day," she laughed.

Shaunie even invited him to her wedding to pastor Keion Henderson in 2022. Well, kind of. During Me'arah's 16th birthday party, Shaq asked if he was invited. "I was like, 'Of course you are.' And I'm rolling my eyes like, 'I mean you are, but do you really have to come?'" she told E! News. He didn't attend. "But he got the courtesy invite," she added.