Shaquille O’Neal was a guest on The Pivot Podcast, which is a popular sports podcast hosted by former NFL stars Channing Crowder, Fred Taylor & Ryan Clark. Outlets are running stories with the quote in the headline about how he lets his daughters live with him as long as they need while telling his sons they’re getting kicked out at 18. Shaq has six children, three daughters and three sons, ranging in age from 16 to 26. (One son was his wife, Shaunie’s from a previous relationship. He also has a daughter from a previous relationship.) He is definitely being unfair to his sons with this, but after listening to his interview I came away with more respect for him. He grew up with an abusive father who was a literal drill sergeant and would physically and emotionally abuse him. Despite this, Shaq credits his stepfather for the man he is today and for giving him him drive and a will to succeed. He was clear in his interview that he’s never physically abused his children. He also blamed himself for his divorce, admitting that he screwed up a good situation and was so lonely afterwards. Shaq and his his wife, Shaunie, divorced in 2011 after nine years of marriage. Here’s some of what he said on that show.
On his kids
I can spoil them but I can’t overspoil. I tell them I’m 50. When I’m 70 I’m going to hand it over to one of y’all. I have six fabulous kids I don’t have any complaints.
On if he has favorites
I like my girls a little bit better. As a man you have to protect, provide and love for your women. I trust them more because they’re more sensitive, they’re more caring. They’re thinkers. I tell my boys ‘when y’all get 18 y’all got to go. Girls can stay as long as they want. Take your time, go to college get your masters get your doctorate. I’ll pay for it. I’m trying to teach them about all the types of men. What to avoid. I tell them all the time, ‘don’t mess with somebody that everybody want. He got too many options. Get somebody that you like, that you respect, that you can control. Don’t mess with nobody like your daddy. Your daddy used to be an animal.’
On his divorce
I was bad. She was awesome. It was all me. We don’t need to talk about what I was doing but I wasn’t protecting her and protecting those vows. When you lead that double life and get caught up. She did exactly what she was supposed to do. She’s happy now, she’s about to marry a fine young gentleman, I’m happy for her and we have a great relationship. As I get older and dwell on the situation I can honestly say it was all me. I was just being greedy. I had the perfect situation. I may not be a husband, but I’ll always be a father. I have two – I don’t like to use the term baby mamas – I have two wonderful women that have given me beautiful gorgeous children. I have to protect and I have to provide and I have to love them forever. That’s why I work so hard. I’ve got to work for them. I’ve got to work for my six babies.
[From The Pivot Podcast]
I listened to Shaq for over a half an hour – he got candid fast. Plus he was getting choked up at some points. After that they started talking about sports-specific stuff and my eyes glossed over. He’s still not my favorite person, but my friend April loves him and that makes me see him differently. This stuff about his daughters getting all the support and love doesn’t sit with me right, particularly because he made it sound like his daughters have their sh-t together and his sons are not as motivated or reliable. He didn’t say that directly, but that’s the impression I got. If that’s the case, wouldn’t the boys need just as much if not more help?
I googled “what are Shaq’s children doing now” and it looks like they’re all doing well. Of his children with Shaunie, his son Myles, 24, is an actor and DJ. Shareef, 22, plays basketball for Shaq’s alma mater the LSU Tigers. (Look at him with his French bulldog!) Another son, Shaquir, 22, also plays basketball at Texas Southern University and so does Shaquir’s sister, Amirah, 20. Me’arah O’Neal turns 16 next month and she also loves playing basketball, she’s on her high school team. Shaq has said that he doesn’t want his kids to be spoiled and that he’s the rich one, not his kids. I hope he also tells his sons he’ll cover their education costs as long as they want to attend. Given how excellent his college-age kids are at basketball, I doubt any of them have tuition bills though!