Shaunie Henderson Says Quote from Her Memoir About Ex Shaquille O’Neal Was ‘Taken Out of Context’ (Exclusive) (2024)

In an excerpt from her debut memoir, Henderson ponders if she was ever really "in love" with her ex-husband, Shaquille O'Neal

Shaunie Henderson Says Quote from Her Memoir About Ex Shaquille O’Neal Was ‘Taken Out of Context’ (Exclusive) (1)

Shaunie Henderson is setting the record straight about the viral excerpt from her book in which she questions whether or not she was really "in love" with her ex-husband, Shaquille O'Neal.

In her memoir,UNDEFEATED:Changing the Rules and Winning on My Own Terms,released on Tuesday, May 7 via Gallery Books, Henderson, 49, writes, "Looking back, I don't know that I was ever really in love with the man," whom she married in 2002.

The next day, O'Neal, 52, posted a somber message on social media, seemingly referencing the confession from his ex-wife. "I understand... I wouldn’t have been in love with me either. Wishing you all the best. All love, Shaq," he wrote on Instagram with the caption, "Trust me I get it."

Henderson exclusively tells PEOPLE she saw O'Neal's cryptic message and believes the excerpt was "taken out of context." She explains, "My book is my truth, and when I was talking to my friend yesterday, I was like, developing an opinion and a comment from content with no context will show you a lot of people's intelligence and unintelligence, right? There was no context to just that one quote that I said, and I think that sadly, people are taking my words out of context."

"I'm not a word girl. I'm a character girl, and since I've left the marriage of Shaquille, my character has spoken for itself," she continues.

Shaunie Henderson Says Quote from Her Memoir About Ex Shaquille O’Neal Was ‘Taken Out of Context’ (Exclusive) (2)

Henderson says she "can't speak for" O'Neal — or "why he would run with" the out-of-context excerpt on social media —"but it's my book, my truth, and it's my legacy."

After O'Neal's response circulated on social media, Henderson says she spoke to a friend who experienced a similar uncertainty in a relationship. "It's funny, another girlfriend called me and was like, 'I know exactly what you were saying.' She goes, 'I didn't know that I wasn't in love with my first fiancé.' She never did get married, but she was like, 'My fiancé, you couldn't tell me I wasn't in love then.' "

Henderson shares that her friend revealed that "it wasn't until I got older and now I'm married to my husband that I know what being in love feels like," which is a feeling the Basketball Wives star completely understands.

Related: Shaquille O'Neal and Ex Shaunie's Relationship Timeline

"When you love somebody, you love somebody, but to be in love with somebody is a different feeling, and I will be honest, I didn't realize that until I found the love of my life right now and I'm in this marriage. I'm like, oh my gosh. It's a different feeling," she says of her current husband, Keion Henderson, whom she married in 2022.

Shaunie Henderson Says Quote from Her Memoir About Ex Shaquille O’Neal Was ‘Taken Out of Context’ (Exclusive) (3)

"I prayed about it," Henderson admits of the viral ordeal involving her ex-husband. "I pray about everything. Listen, praying about things makes you be quiet. So I go in what I call my prayer closet, and even if that's driving in the car, it's just like, when you feel yourself being emotional about something or feeling like you need to defend yourself, you just stop and pray, it will silence you and it will center you and balance you. So absolutely, it's my go-to."

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Her words being taken out of context reminded Henderson that people often see what they want to see. "People don't read, you know what I mean? Love, not…in love…They pick out the words they want. Again, context is everything," she says.

Henderson and O'Neal are parents to four kids together — Shareef, Amirah, Shaqir and Me'arah — while Shaunie has a son, Myles, from a previous relationship, as Shaq has a daughter, Taahirah, with his former girlfriend, Arnetta Yardbourgh.

Related: Shaunie Henderson Talks ‘Overwhelming’ Response to Her Memoir, Finding True ‘Love’ and Her 'Voice'(Exclusive)

Shaunie Henderson Says Quote from Her Memoir About Ex Shaquille O’Neal Was ‘Taken Out of Context’ (Exclusive) (4)

Months before the memoir's release, Henderson told PEOPLE she was "nervous" to write about her ex-husband because "anything involving Shaquille is always a sketchy thing because of who he is," and the public's perception of their history together. Still, she felt it was important to "share this journey" and clarify the public's "misconception" of her.

Over the course of their relationship, which began in the late 1990s and ultimately ended in 2009 when Henderson filed for separation, the couple struggled with infidelity, which O'Neal admitted to in his 2011 memoir,Shaq Uncut: My Story.

Speaking to PEOPLE before her memoir's release, Henderson admitted that O'Neal confessing to his downfalls in their marriage "made it easier" for her to open up. "I was like, 'Oh, okay, he told on himself,' " she laughed.

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Shaunie Henderson Says Quote from Her Memoir About Ex Shaquille O’Neal Was ‘Taken Out of Context’ (Exclusive) (2024)

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