Shaquille O’Neal opened up as he has never done before in an interview for The Pivot Podcast hosted by several fellow athletes where he discussed his 2011 divorce from ex-wife Shaunie Nelson.

“I never talk about this but I’m glad you guys asked me, cause I don’t mind talking about this,” O’Neal said. He then quickly and frankly assessed his marriage saying, “But I was bad. She was awesome, she really was, 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. Sometimes when you live that double life you get caught up in it.”

He also added that he “made a lot of mistakes,” in their marriage despite her willingness to take care of their kids and even taking care of him to a large extent while they were together. He also reflected fondly on fatherhood and pleasant moments while their family was together, including a game called “Dog Man” he’d play with his kids every time he came home. He then said with misty eyes, “Look, I was just being greedy, I had the perfect situation.”

The two were married from 2002 to 2011. O’Neal first filed for a divorce in 2007, but they then reconciled. Nelson then filed her first intent to divorce two years later in 2009, citing irreconcilable differences. Shaq said after their divorce, “I was lost. 76,000 thousand square foot house by yourself, lost. No kids, go to the gym, nobody’s playing in the gym. You go to their room, nobody’s there.”

O’Neal said he was able to fight himself out of his funk by telling himself, “Ok, you’re not married, but you still have to protect and provide for this family. Get your ass, man up, let’s go. What are you going to do next? Because I may not be a husband, but I’ll always be a father, and a father’s job is to protect, provide and love.”

Read more about: