Shaquille O'Neal has been vocal in the past about not wanting to meet his biological father, who left when he was two years old. Since then Shaq has only seen his dad once, when he was 12, and he made his pain public when he released the song "Biological Didn't Bother" in 1994. But one day a few weeks ago, while eating at one of his favorite soul food restaurants in Newark, Shaq had what he calls a "divine intervention."
As the sports star explained on the latest episode of The Big Podcast with Shaq: "My uncle, who's a cop there, I tell him, 'Find my biological.' So he goes, types the name in, we come up with an address and we go by there. He's not there. So we go back to the restaurant and then I've gotta catch a flight. Hour into the flight he calls and goes, 'Yo, guess where your father lived at?' He lived upstairs from the restaurant I've been going to for the last 10 years. And I never knew."
Last week, Shaq flew back to New Jersey, returned to his food haunt (which he doesn't name) and called Joe Toney, his biological father, to invite him to come down to the restaurant. So, what happened then?
"He came downstairs, we hug, we chatted," Shaq revealed. "My message to him was, 'I don't hate you. I understand the circumstances... It happens to a lot of men in America. I will never judge you, and I just want you to know, thank you.' And he was happy, and I found out I got two brothers that I never knew. . . I said, 'Brother, I don't hate you at all, it's all good,' shook his hand and gave him a hug. He had some tears in his eye. He's 70! I didn't know he was that old. He said, 'Man, I never knew, this feels great.'"
Shaq was glad he took his dad out to dinner. "I kinda feel good doing it because I don't want to say I never had feelings for him, but I was good. And as an African-American man, you understand that it ain't easy."
Shaq has been keeping in touch with Toney since that night, and he plans to meet his siblings someday. Hopefully over a warm and wonderful soul food meal.
So, what's the identity of the fateful restaurant that's made such a big difference in Shaq's life? We're on the case....
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