A look into Shaquille O’Neal’s toxic relationship with former convict and biological father Joseph Toney

Arjun Julka
|Published August 02, 2022

NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal despised his biological father, Joseph Toney, for the longest time.

One of the most popular sports personalities in the world, Shaquille O’Neal, wasn’t on the best of terms with his biological father, Joseph Toney, given the latter being a convicted felon. The Big Diesel’s old man was held guilty of possession of drugs and forging checks.

Nonetheless, Joseph didn’t want anything to do with Shaq at the time, relinquishing his paternal rights to Shaq’s stepfather Phillip Harrison, who was an army sergeant. Harrison left no stone unturned to give the four-time champion the perfect upbringing.

As Shaq gained national prominence, reports of his biological father, Joseph Toney, began to surface in the media. The former convicted felon made attempts to turn his life around. Joseph would turn delivery man, making deliveries to the homeless shelters.

Also read: Jerry Jones upstages Shaquille O’Neal in real estate market with purchase of $28.1 million mansion in Texas

At the time, many believed Joseph’s attempt at goodwill was to have a pie of Shaq’s fame and money. The Diesel stepfather voiced his displeasure about Joe talking as the former center’s father during an NBA Finals game.

Shaquille O’Neal’s tumultuous relationship with biological father Joseph Toney.

Despite numerous attempts from Joseph, the former Lakers center was in no mood to entertain his biological father. Shaq would even diss his father in a rap song he released in 1994. The Diesel was in no mood to meet his old man.

However, as time passed, the push for Shaq to meet his biological father came from his mother, Lucille O’Neal. The Hall of Famer remained defiant for the longest time, not having a change of heart until 2016, 3-years after his stepfather Harrison had passed away.

The former two-time scoring champion decided to meet Joseph at a restaurant in New Jersey. In an interview with Dr. Phil, Shaq would provide further insight into his relationship with his father.

“My job is to just love him as much as I can now,” Shaq said during his interview with Dr. Phil.

“He had some problems when he was young, I don’t judge him,” said the three-time Finals MVP. “As long as we’re both here, we just get to know each other.”

The Diesel further revealed that he and Joseph talk at least once every two weeks and that he even allowed the latter to meet his oldest daughter.

Also read: $400 million worth Shaquille O’Neal offered Charles Barkley $50,000 for his favorite charity for the ‘Spiciest Chip Challenge’

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About the author

Arjun Julka

Arjun Julka

Arjun Julka is a NBA author at The SportsRush. Basketball isn’t just a sport for this 26-year-old, who hails from Mumbai. He began watching the sport after stumbling upon a court in his society, helping him identify an undiscovered passion for the game of hoops. Now an ardent fan, Arjun supports Stephen Curry and the Warriors but also enjoys watching Giannis Antetokounmpo own the paint. When it comes to the GOAT debate, the TSR author feels LeBron James is yet to receive a lot of his due but cannot deny marveling at Michael Jordan’s resume.

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