Shaunie O’Neal Says She Was Never In Love With Shaq

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Shaunie Henderson noticed the cracks in her marriage to Shaquille O’Neal long before their high-profile divorce shook the sports and entertainment worlds in 2011.

In her new book, “Undefeated: Changing the Rules and Winning on My Own Terms,” released on May 7, Henderson, the creator of VH1’s “Basketball Wives,” delves into the breakdown of their relationship during O’Neal’s tenure with the Lakers.

“I enjoyed those sweet early years being a mother and raising my children; my days were always busy with kids and family, and every now and then I got to travel or enjoy a little of the NBA high life. But invisibly, my marriage was beginning to crumble,” Henderson, now 49, wrote.

“As I’ve written, it wasn’t obvious early on. You know how when you first get sick, and the symptoms are so mild that you’re not even sure you are sick? That’s how things were in the early years. I was busy and happy and didn’t notice what was going on. But as the disease progressed, the symptoms became harder and harder to ignore,” Henderson, now 49, reflected.


“It was not hard to fall for his charm,” Henderson wrote of their first meeting in 1999, when she was working in the marketing department at 20th Century Fox.

“I staffed the premiere of ‘Star Wars: Episode 1–The Phantom Menace’ for Fox. I was checking in special guests, and Shaquille wasn’t even on the guest list, but he was such a big deal in L.A. that nobody cared when he showed up unannounced,” she wrote. “My bosses let him in the theater, but he ended up spending most of the movie in the lobby, trying to talk to me.”

After a few dates, Henderson and O’Neal were an item, and they went on to become one of the most famous NBA couples.


Despite the glamorous exterior, Henderson and O’Neal’s relationship faced turbulence, with Henderson recalling hearing rumors about O’Neal’s behavior when they relocated to Miami in 2004.

“Take Shaquille’s habit of ‘going missing,’” Henderson wrote. “Our chef did all the grocery shopping. His managers paid all the bills. I took care of the kids. So where was he going in the morning, during the day, and at night? No one works out that often.”

“When we moved to Miami, I even heard a rumor that he had a condo in Miami Beach. I started to get suspicious, but he always had an answer, and I could never prove anything. Eventually, I was forced to admit that my family life wasn’t as blissful or perfect as I wanted to believe.”

Although Henderson and O’Neal shared a life of luxury, with mansions and lavish Christmases, Henderson admitted that she may have been in love with the idea of their life together rather than O’Neal himself.

“Looking back, I don’t know that I was ever really in love with the man, but I was in love with the idea of being married to the man I had a family with,” Henderson wrote. “I was in love with the idea of building a life together. I truly did enjoy spending time with him. [NBA] road trips gave me a chance to be with my husband and experience the NBA life for a little while.”

Henderson explained in the book’s introduction that O’Neal tried to be the best husband and father he could to her and their children while navigating fame and receiving a lot of attention from women.

“He was trying to be a world-famous, thirty-something multimillionaire with thousands of women throwing themselves at him, and people in general begging just to be in his presence, while being a husband and a father at the same time,” she wrote. “How could anyone possibly know how to do that?”

Henderson made it clear that O’Neal never tried to hide her — he would blow kisses to her from the court at NBA games — and was so proud of their life together.

While O’Neal took responsibility for the downfall of their marriage, and wished his wife the best in her new marriage, Henderson emphasized that she isn’t placing blame. They divorced in 2011, allowing Henderson to find independence and create “Basketball Wives.”

Today, Henderson and O’Neal maintain a peaceful coexistence, with Henderson emphasizing that she doesn’t wish to tarnish their relationship.

“…Neither of us took the time to invest in our future by seeking marriage counseling, which, looking back, we probably should have,” Henderson reflected.


Their divorce was finalized in 2011.

It led to Henderson finding her own financial independence and creating “Basketball Wives” in 2010. The reality show follows the daily lives and dynamics between wives, ex-wives and girlfriends of professional basketball players.

“After almost a year of planning, I had left my husband of nearly seven years, Shaquille O’Neal, along with the life my children and I had come to know… I told my divorce attorneys I didn’t want to fight with Shaquille. I just wanted him to take care of his kids,” Henderson wrote. “I didn’t care about anything else. I had also told them I didn’t want a cent of Shaquille’s money, and I meant it. I wanted to be free to have the life I wanted, on my terms, even while raising five kids under eleven… I’d turned my back on mansions, luxury cars, private jets, and a lifetime of wealth and privilege.”

Henderson explained that she and O’Neal now “have reached a placed of peaceful coexistence” and she “doesn’t want to ruin that” with her book.

Kissy's Thoughts

Shaunie is a powerhouse.  Most women would hold onto the last name of a celebrity man for dear life. But Shaunie dropped Shaq’s last name and picked up her husband’s last name…  That says a lot about her level of self-love.

Many people who have never experienced deep, profound soulmate love will tell you to just pick a man, and eventually you will fall in love with him if he provides.

But it doesn’t work like that. Love is either almost instant after a few weeks or it’s cultivated through bonding. When a man initially meets a woman he tends to be dating/having sex with other women. Then he enters a relationship with a woman and continues the same patterns.

Because he’s busy bonding with other women he never fully forms a deep bond  and cleaves with the main woman that he’s in a relationship with.

Of course men don’t realize how cheating impacts them early on in the relationship, and only denies them from receiving real love from the woman they are with.

I tell all of my couples to stop dating other people once you’re in a relationship. In fact stop talking to people you’re sexually attracted to. Spend time together and BOND. Wherever energy goes, love flows.