Shaquille O’Neal’s kids may be following in his athletic footsteps, but he’s making sure they understand their privilege in the sports world.
“I want them to be model citizens. I want them to be very educated and I want them to understand nepotism, respectable nepotism,” O’Neal, 51, exclusively told Us Weekly on Monday, September 18, while promoting his partnership with Fantasy Labs Las Vegas. “There’s a lot of family corporations that have been around a long time and I would like to have an O’Neal Family Corporation that’s done the right way. So, whether they play basketball or not, doesn’t matter to me. I just want them to be happy and are productive citizens.”
O’Neal is the father of six children. He shares his eldest, daughter Taahirah, 27, with ex Arnetta Yardbourgh, and kids Amirah, 21, Shaqir, 20, and Me’arah, 17, with his ex-wife, Shaunie O’Neal. The former NBA star is also the stepfather of Shaunie’s son, Myles, 26, whom she welcomed during a previous relationship.
Shareef, in particular, has become a basketball star on the rise over the years. He ended his time playing college basketball for the University of California, Los Angeles, to sign with the NBA G League Ignite and play for the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2022 NBA Summer League.
“His career is different ‘cause, of course, they’re going to look at me and try to compare him to me,” O’Neal told Us before sharing some words of wisdom he gave to his son. “I always tell him, ‘Forget about me. There is no me. You just do the best you can do and you just have fun and you just play.’”
Despite his and his children’s shared passion for sports, O’Neal said he doesn’t want his kids “to be like me.” He explained: “I was crazy, I was enigmatic, I had to make a lot of sacrifices, especially towards them, to be who I am. And it’s fun when you’re going through it and winning, but when it’s all said and done, you miss a lot.” O’Neal played for several NBA teams — including the Orlando Magic, L.A. Lakers and Miami Heat — throughout his nearly 20-year-long career before retiring in 2011.
He continued: “I tell them, ‘Forget all that nonsense. You just go play. Don’t worry about what they write, don’t worry about what they say. You just have a good time.’”
While the O’Neals may be one of the most famous families in the sports world, O’Neal doesn’t have much interest in putting their family life on display in a potential reality show. “A lot of those shows are scripted and our life is not scripted. Our life is very real and I don’t think people want that much positivity all the time,” he stated. “We don’t fight, we don’t argue, we don’t throw stuff … If we ever got the right station to back us, it’d probably be something we do, but it’s not important.
For now, O’Neal has his hands full as the Chief Fantasy Officer for Fantasy Labs Las Vegas, which emerges guests in a variety of exhibits that combine technology and art into a sensory experience. “It’s just going to help elevate your mind, help let your mind be free,” O’Neal told Us. “We have great food, we have great drinks. Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world, but if you want to enhance your fantasies, come to Fantasy Labs.”
Fantasy Lab Las Vegas’ new exhibit, SHAQ’s Fantasy Lab, launches to the public in October.
With reporting by Christina Garibaldi