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Shaquille O'Neal Was Once Married to Shaunie - Here's a Look at Their Marriage before It Ended

Bettina Dizon
Nov 21, 2019
10:58 P.M.
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NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal had an “irretrievably broken” marriage to Shaunie that lead to divorce after being partners for nearly five years.


Hearing of a divorce is just another normal thing to read on tabloids and news outlets, and one of those who had an irreconcilable marriage was Shaquille O’Neal of the NBA’s Miami Heat.

O’Neal was married to Shaunie Nelson for almost five years before he filed for divorce. The petition disclosed that the former had signed a prenuptial agreement before tying the knot. The petition read:

“The marriage between the parties is irretrievably broken.”

Shaquille O'Neal and wife Shaunie O'Neal at the 2004 MTV Video Music Awards. | Source: Getty Images


However, before their relationship went into shambles, the Miami Heat star and his partner embraced a beautiful love story that began with faithfulness and unconditional love.


Nelson has been the apple of O’Neal’s eye for several years when they began dating around 1981, and soon became the woman he called wife.

The couple already had two children together, Shareef and Amirah, before tying the knot in a secret wedding at the Beverley Hills Hotel on December 26, 2002.

Shaunie O'Neal and Shaquille O'Neal during General Motors Presents 3rd Annual GM All-Car Showdown. | Source: Getty Images


Before they got together, they each already had children of their own. O’Neal had a daughter, Taahirah, and Nelson had a son, Miles.

In 2003, the couple decided to expand their family and had two more kids, Shaqir and three years after, Me’rah.


While the world may have seen a perfect marriage and an ideal family with mounts of success stories from their father, all was a façade of a troubled relationship.

Shareef O'Neal poses with Shaquille O'Neal as he celebrates 18th birthday party at West Coast Customs. | Source: Getty Images


In 2007, O’Neal filed for divorce claiming that his wife kept her funds and assets a secret from him. At that time, the NBA star generated over $20 million annually from his basketball career alone.

The couple set aside their disputes and divorce papers and decided to mend the broken pieces of their marriage, hoping what once was, can be restored.

However, their time as husband and wife only lasted two years, until the divorce was back on the table and about to continue.

Shaquille O'Neal of the Miami Heat and his wife Shaunie O'Neal arrive at his 33rd birthday party. | Source: Getty Images



The divorce that was once again filed was grounded on the infidelity of both O’Neal and Nelson. The basketball champ revealed in his memoir, “Shaq Uncut: My Story:”

“I was a guy with too many options. Choosing to be with some of those women, well, that’s on me. In my mind, I never did it disrespectfully, but obviously I shouldn’t have done it all.”

Nelson, curious about her husband’s secret affairs, hired an investigator to know of the details regarding his infidelities, to which she found out many.

Shaquille O'Neal, Shareef O'Neal & Shaunie O'Neal at the Jordan Brand Future of Flight Showcase. | Source: Getty Images


Although their divorce wasn’t as messy as other famous celebrities, it became one of the most expensive ones.

Nelson had custody over their children with visitation rights for their father, who also had to pay a significant amount for child support.

However, O’Neal stipulated that his former wife be prohibited from discussing their relationship on the show “Basketball Wives,” where she is a producer.

Shaquille O'Neal poses in the Authentic Brands Group booth during the Licensing Expo. | Source: Getty Images



The Miami Heat basketball pro remained good friends with his ex-wife since their split and was rumored to have been trying to win her back. A source told MTO News that the two were “working on things.”

Shaquille O'Neal attends the 2019 NBA Awards presented by Kia on TNT. | Source: Getty Images


The source said:

“Shaunie wasn’t taking Shaq’s flirting seriously, she thought he was joking. But now that she knows he’s serious, she’s giving him a second chance.”

Last year, O’Neal wrote a sweet tribute to honor his wedding with his previous partner alongside a photo of him wearing the same suit he wore on his wedding day.