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Shaunie O'Neal on the lives of 'Basketball Wives'

By Lisa Respers France, CNN
Shaunie O'Neal says she has aspirations that she put on the back burner while married to NBA star Shaquille O'Neal.
Shaunie O'Neal says she has aspirations that she put on the back burner while married to NBA star Shaquille O'Neal.
  • Shaunie O'Neal is in the process of divorcing NBA star Shaquille O'Neal
  • Her new reality show, VH1's "Basketball Wives," is about the women involved with players
  • O'Neal says she wants viewers to see what really goes on behind the scenes

(CNN) -- Even though she knows what it's like to be married to a superstar athlete, Shaunie O'Neal is so over the Tiger Woods drama.

"I'm tired of hearing about it," she said. "No one knows what really happened and it's their business."

It's an interesting perspective given that O'Neal is the driving force behind a new VH1 reality show "Basketball Wives," which offers a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of the wives, fiancées and girlfriends of NBA players. The show premieres Sunday.

O'Neal, who is in the process of divorcing Cleveland Cavaliers basketball player Shaquille O'Neal, is producing the show in which she appears with several of her girlfriends, including Jennifer Williams (wife of player Eric Williams), Evelyn Lozada (former fiancée of Antoine Walker's) and Royce Reed (a former NBA dancer).

O'Neal recently spoke with CNN about her new project, the downsides of the glamorous life and how she dealt with a cast mate whose sister was rumored in blogs to have had an affair with Shaquille O'Neal.

CNN: You say in the show that the lifestyle definitely comes with a price. What price do you feel that you have paid?

Shaunie O'Neal: I can only speak for myself, but I feel like I lost myself in the process -- the goals, the things that I wanted and the dreams I had. You just kind of forget about them.

You are moving from city to city, you are taking care of your kids, you are taking care of your husband. You are just juggling a lot of different tasks. It's difficult, and in the process I just lost myself in there.

Although it's a wonderful lifestyle, certain aspects of it, you become just that person's wife. Right now I could walk somewhere and I don't even have a first name. It's just: "Hey, there's Shaq's ex-wife."

CNN: What are some of the goals you had for yourself that you feel like you can accomplish now that you are no longer in your husband's shadow?

O'Neal: I've always wanted my own shoe line, and that's something that is in development right now.

It's funny because people are saying, "Oh, now that she has left him she has all of the things that she wants to do."

All of these ideas were always there, but my priority before was keeping my family together and these things were something that was put on the back burner to keep peace in my house.

Now I have the opportunity to do it, my kids are all in school, and now I have the Shaunie time to do it. I want to be an example to my kids and show them that I have a purpose and can be a productive person.

CNN: What was the most difficult thing about that lifestyle, something that you really didn't expect to be so hard?

O'Neal: Moving from city to city with kids. I felt bad that my kids really never had the opportunity to stay in one place and develop those lifelong friendships.

My oldest is in seventh grade now, and he still has friends from Miami [Shaquille O'Neal previously played for the Miami Heat], but he hasn't been able to have that one group of friends that he can grab a hold of and stay with the entire time.

I had that growing up, and I feel bad that my kids weren't able to have that opportunity, too.

CNN: You say you don't read the blogs because of the stories that are made up about you. What was the biggest lie, the one that really drove you nuts?

O'Neal: There were two, and they are kind of combined: that I cheated and that I stole money.

I don't even know where that came from, and I'm like these people can just say whatever without any proof at all, which is just nuts to me.

CNN: What do you hope viewers take away from "Basketball Wives?"

O'Neal: When I went into the concept of the show, it was really to prove all the people wrong who think that everyone sits around and gets mani-pedis all day, every day.

These ladies have businesses, and while they are wild and crazy and having a good time, I don't think they are any different from the average woman in a relationship. They just have to deal with things on a whole different level, such as the groupies.

It just answers all of the questions that people always ask anyway.

CNN: You have a good mix of ex-wives and ex-girlfriends along with current wives and girlfriends. How is it different being an ex of an NBA player?

O'Neal: I don't have to deal with the same stuff that I dealt with before. Shaquille and I are still really close, and we talk every day.

It's everything but going to the games, and I'm not missing that. I didn't even know he broke his thumb when that happened. I don't have to put on a pretty dress and heels, go to a game and have to grin and wave.

I don't have to wrap my whole schedule around the NBA schedule, and that feels good. But my friends are still the same; I don't feel like I am out of the loop, and none of the wives are treating me any differently.

CNN: So are you and fellow cast member Gloria Govan (fiancée of Phoenix Suns star Matt Barnes and sister of Laura Govan, who has been the subject of rumors of having an affair with Shaq) cool?

O'Neal: We are OK. We're not enemies, and we're not friends. If I see her, I can speak and be cordial and all that. I'm not mad at Gloria. Let's just say that.