Shaunie O’Neal, wife of Shaquille O’Neal, is prepping for the debut of her new reality series “Basketball Wives.” The budding TV star recently sat down for an exclusive interview with Essence Magazine and finally sets the record straight on what really brought about the demise of her marriage. Shaunie held very little back during the interview and squarely places the blame for the failed marriage on the shoulders of Shaq and Miami groupies, whom she says are the most “aggressive” she has even seen.
Shaunie on when things started to go bad in her marriage: [Shaq was traded to the Miami Heat] “Miami is a great city. It just wasn’t a great city for our marriage. I know they say L.A. has its groupies, but Miami has a different mentality. Even going to the games, the whole environment is so different. Girls are practically sitting in their bra and panties in the arena. When you’re trying to keep your husband, that’s a lot to take. It was a whole new lifestyle I wasn’t ready for. Apparently we didn’t have a strong enough foundation for Shaq to withstand that type of temptation.”
Shaunie on finally confronting Shaq about the infidelity rumors: “He would deny it sometimes, and other times he would ask, ‘You got pictures? Video? If not, don’t come at me because you have no proof.’ “He’d say, ‘Okay, you’re mad. Now what? You’re not going anywhere.’
Shaunie on being accused of cheating on Shaq with her personal trainer: “I worked out at home- with my trainer, my sister, her husband and my girlfriend. I was a good girl. I wouldn’t even entertain a man flirting with me. I was that conservative. But when those rumors came out, I felt I was so small and Shaq was so big that it didn’t matter what I said; nobody was going to believe me. All I was thinking was, How could this happen to me? I had no idea how I was going to pick up the pieces. I was just done.”
Shaunie on the state of her relationship with Shaq today: “We are becoming friends, and it’s nice because it’s something we really lacked in our marriage. I enjoy being able to talk openly to him, and I think we both learned a lot from each other during this time.”
Excerpts and scans by Sista.