Blog Entry

Writer: Shaq was physically abused by his father

Posted on: November 10, 2011 3:23 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2011 3:31 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver


Excerpts of Shaquille O'Neal's new book -- Shaq Uncut -- have trickled out over the past few weeks in advance of its Nov. 15 release, and the general theme has been O'Neal blasting off on someone, whether that's Kobe Bryant (here), LeBron James (here) or Glen Davis (here).

But Jackie MacMullan, the long-time NBA writer who authored the book with O'Neal, says that O'Neal the aggressor has gotten far more play than O'Neal the victim, a role that figures prominently in his autobiography.

During an interview on Jason Whitlock's podcast, MacMullan described how Phillip Harrison, Shaquille O'Neal's father, a staff sergeant in the United States Army, repeatedly physically abused the NBA legend during his childhood.

"It gets lost in the shuffle because people want to talk about Kobe, Pat Riley, and LeBron and all these other famous people," MacMullan said, "but another fascinating part of this book is his father. 'Sarge,' Phillip Harrison, who, frankly, abused him all the way through his life. Physically abused him, beat the living daylights out of him at every turn."

MacMullan noted that this wasn't simply corporal punishment or spanking, but serious physical abuse.

"We're not talking about spanking," she said. "We're talking about a belt. Beating him badly. Something that disturbed his mother greatly. Of course, Shaq's mom and his dad aren't together any more. I think that's in part why. Sarge was a military guy, that's how his father raised him, and that's how he was going to raise his son. I don't think he thinks there's anything wrong with it still. Shaq understands it, his dad was 'trying to help' him. He believed his dad had the best intentions, so Shaq gives him a pass on it. As a reader, you can't help but go, 'Wow, this is tough, this is over the top.'"

In particular, she retold a story involving O'Neal being punched in the face multiple times by Harrison.

"His father came home from work one night, Shaq is sitting there, he punches Shaq in the face," MacMllan recounted. "Shaq says, 'Well, what's that for?' [Harrison] said, 'We're going to see this guy play basketball. We're going to see him play tonight. He plays in the NBA. You're messing around, you're goofing around, you're not serious about your game. This guy makes $15 million and he can't play at all. And we're going to go see him.' Punches him again and takes him to go see Jon Koncak play basketball and says, 'See, if you applied yourself, you could be in the NBA making $15 million.' You can say that's a good story, it makes my skin go pale, and I'm pretty pale to begin with."

Despite the abuse, MacMullan was careful to note, multiple times, that O'Neal does not bear any ill will towards his father.

"Shaq said, 'He never hit me without cause, if it weren't for him I'd be in prison right now because I was a wise guy, and I did the wrong things, and I was caught up with the wrong kids.'"

Even when directly confronted with the idea that his father had abused him, O'Neal would not express negative thoughts or feelings towards his father.   

"I said to him, 'This is abusive, what your dad did to you,'" MacMullan said. "And Shaq said, 'I understand why he did it. I love him. I would never do it to my own kids.' "

Nevertheless, she clearly came away from this portion of O'Neal's story with serious concerns.

"Shaq loves his father and compliments his father all through this book," MacMullan said. "But all I can tell you, is the stories after stories after stories, I think Shaq can see his dad one way, he's so close to him, it's probably the only way he can see it. I think you and I would see it differently."

Since: Nov 10, 2011
Posted on: November 15, 2011 4:04 pm

Writer: Shaq was physically abused by his father

that was sexual abuse dummy. spare the rod, spoil the child and you proved that by your behavior as a child.

Since: Jul 3, 2007
Posted on: November 12, 2011 10:34 pm

Writer: Shaq was physically abused by his father

Oh my god, you are all monsters. Didn't you learn anything from the PSU scandal? 'oh, yeah right, look at how big he is', '90's are over Shaq, you whack, go away', 'oh it made him the man he is today'. Don't defend anybody who abuses their children like this, especially when they are, in effect, teaching Shaq that its' right. What, it doesn't count as abuse because the kid grew up to be Shaq? i was the mouthiest little punk there was in high school...all authority figures despised me, and for good reason. My parents never raised a hand to me, and they are GOOD parents, they taught me right from wrong with basic DIPLOMACY. That's how you treat your children, and thats how you raise them, so they can raise their kids that way...

Since: Aug 18, 2008
Posted on: November 11, 2011 3:33 pm

Writer: Shaq was physically abused by his father

who's shwakq kidding?  it was probably the other way around!!!

Since: Nov 11, 2011
Posted on: November 11, 2011 12:03 pm

Writer: Shaq was physically abused by his father

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Since: Jan 5, 2007
Posted on: November 11, 2011 11:42 am

Writer: Shaq was physically abused by his father

"We're not talking about spanking," she said. "We're talking about a belt"

Are we supposed to take this line seriously? since when was using a belt, more than a spanking?

I didn't know you could call it a spanking unless you used a belt, at minimum....

oh the humanity....

Since: Sep 22, 2007
Posted on: November 11, 2011 9:34 am

Writer: Shaq was physically abused by his father

seems strange when these athletes get ready to write a book they've always been abused by a parent , i suppose he'll show up on every tslk show now .  i'd hate to be the one who trys to abuse him today .

Since: Nov 10, 2011
Posted on: November 11, 2011 9:22 am

Writer: Shaq was physically abused by his father

agree 100%.

Since: Jun 3, 2007
Posted on: November 11, 2011 9:14 am

Writer: Shaq was physically abused by his father

Although I do not agree with punching a child in the face, I do believe in discipline. Maybe his father went over-board, but, as the quotes say, Sarge did it the only way he knew because his father did that when he was a child. You look at today's society and compare it to two or three generations ago, and you will see a big difference in how kids are towards their elders and almost everything else. We have lost morals and accountability in this world we live in now. Respect is also something that has been lost. Those who believe in "time-out" and other passive punishments have no clue as to what they're doing to their children. Youtube a very funny skit by comedian Steve Harvey where he says a kid told his mom to "Bite Him" and the mom tries to talk to little Bobby. The parent that was watching the incident began to beat her son and telling him that if he ever thought of acting like that, she would whip his a$$!!! Funny skit but it shows the difference in raising a child. We, as parents, ARE NOT our children's friends. I tell my two daughters all the time that I love them (everyday), but I'm not their friend and there are some parameters that need to be respected. Currently, both have straight A's all throughout their school life but still have a little Swagger. I note that I haven't spanked my children in years, because if you set the tone when they're young, the learn respect, accountability, and some morals. Sorry for indulging but with this Sandusky stuf going on, it's very important to train children all those things and the little ones of what not to do or what shouldn't happen!!!!

Since: Mar 29, 2010
Posted on: November 11, 2011 8:49 am

Writer: Shaq was physically abused by his father

spare the rod and spoil the Rodman....

Since: Feb 3, 2009
Posted on: November 11, 2011 12:52 am

Writer: Shaq was physically abused by his father


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