Shaquille O'Neal is one of the most beloved athletes in Louisiana, as well as around the world.

Although the Hall of Famer retired from the NBA over a decade ago, he's remained in the public eye through his media role, podcast, commercials, public appearances, and more.

A gregarious and infectious personality, Shaq can make a stranger feel like they're a friend.

Shaq
Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images for TLA
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He has come into our work building several times to record his podcast from a studio. I helped set up the time and space with one of his handlers, requesting a brief interview with Shaq.

I spoke to him about his college days at LSU, along with his rap/acting/entertainment career.

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Shaq was gracious, down to earth, and talked like someone who was enjoying himself. In reality, he was likely rushed, had a busy schedule, and had a lot on his plate.

Constantly being in the public eye, I would imagine O'Neal has tons of brief "on-the-surface" conversations with everyday people, even when he's dealing with deep emotional pain in his personal life.

Shaquille O'Neal
Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
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On a recent episode of The Big Podcast with Shaq, there was nothing "on-the-surface" about a sensitive subject matter.

Infidelity was on the tabloids and sports pages last week.

Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka was suspended for a year after breaking team rules when having an affair with a team staffer. His wife is well-known actress Nia Long.

Udoka's extramarital affair wasn't the only one making headlines. Marron 5 frontman/musician Adam Levine was outed by several IG models for sending them creepy messages, as well as accusations of cheating on his wife.

When the subject was broached on Shaq's podcast by co-host Nichelle Turner, Shaq turned the tables, refusing to broach the topic of the two men, and instead, citing his own past infidelities as a "serial cheater".

Shaq - “I did it (serial cheating) and I was the best at it. I’m not proud. I lost my family doing it. I lost valuable, important years of my children from doing it. So I refuse to get up here, ‘you shouldn’t have did, this you shouldn’t have did that,’ I’m not that guy. I’m real with the situation.


 

It is not worth it, but let me tell you why. The happiest days of my life were coming home and hearing six different people say, ‘daddy, daddy,’ that happiest days of my life. Forget the money, forget the cars, even forget the championships, especially when they (children) were little and two and three and didn’t really care that I missed 10, 15 free throws. They’d wait up for me at the games and ‘daddy, can we go to Universal,’ those were the best days of my life.

 

When I lost those, I’m not going to use the d-word [depression], because I know but a lot of people are suffering with that, but I was all the way down, and sometimes I’m still all the way down. Especially when I was in my house in Orlando which is 70,000 square feet in there by myself. Nobody. Like I built the house for the kids, gym, game room, pool house, this and that, guest house and all that.

 

When I lost that by being stupid it killed me. So to answer your question, no, it’s not worth it.

 

I wish these two fellas the best. I wish they could come through it and I hope they do not lose their families over what was done.”  - Shaq on The Big Podcast

While many in the public eye have addressed the Udoke and Levine situations with judgment from both sides of the argument, Shaq's emotional response about what cheating cost him strikes a much deeper emotional chord.

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