Shaq's biological father

Discussion in 'NBA Dish' started by Invisible Fan, Jun 13, 2002.

  1. Invisible Fan

    Invisible Fan Contributing Member

    Dec 5, 2001
    Likes Received:

    <i>Bill Plaschke: </i>
    <font size=5>'Biological Didn't Bother'</font>
    O'Neal chooses not to connect with the father who left him years ago.

    NEWARK, N.J. -- The man who doesn't exist walks larger than life through the dank hallways of the Goodwill Home and Mission, wearing a gold Laker jersey adorned with, "O'Neal."

    The man who abandoned his second child awakens every morning in his tiny, windowless room to photos of the boy on the wall and desk, all grown up, giant and famous and gone.

    The man who has been purposely forgotten has put a message on his answering machine that shows he will never forget. "Hi, this is Shaq ... " says the voice.

    That's not his name. But it was once his shame.

    And even as he tries to fix things from his place in the darkest shadow of his son's greatest glory, Joseph Toney realizes it's much too late.

    "It's finished, and it's God's will, and there's nothing more I can do," he said softly.

    Joseph Toney is Shaquille O'Neal's biological father.

    He lives and works in a Newark shelter 15 minutes from the Continental Airlines Arena, where O'Neal will lead the Lakers against the New Jersey Nets Wednesday in what could be a clinching Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

    Toney has obtained a ticket on his own and will cheer for his son but will not say hello.

    He has never said hello.

    They have never spoken.

    They have never even met.

    This is not by accident.

    Wondering how a father could leave his son when he was 6 months old, O'Neal treats him as if he's dead.

    Claiming he lost contact only because he was in prison, then on drugs, Toney says he is alive and sorry.

    O'Neal's people claim Toney is only looking for money and fame.

    Toney's people, who include his Goodwill employers, say he is clean and sober and looking for nothing.

    The only thing certain is that these glorious days for a giant hero have been painfully nicked with irony.

    This is O'Neal's triumphant homecoming to a Newark area where he grew up and still maintains ties with as many as 200 relatives. Yet his closest blood relation here is not welcome.

    This is a time when O'Neal's funky trademark smile is becoming the NBA's logo. Yet the only man in the world who shares that smile doesn't even know him.

    When asked Monday about his biological father, O'Neal smile turned to stone.

    "No, it doesn't bother me at all," he said. "Because the man doesn't even exist."


    "You want to see Shaq?"

    That is what the weary-eyed man behind the front desk of the Goodwill Home and Mission says when you ask about Joseph Toney. That is what they call him here.

    It's a place more about desperate hope than heroes, these brick buildings lodged in a narrow street in downtown Newark, dozens of men wandering around, the air thick with old sweat and mumbled promises.

    Lots of men come here claiming to have something special.

    Joseph Toney has delivered.

    "When I heard he was Shaq's father, I took it with a grain of salt," said Rich Callahan, director of ministries. "You hear a lot of that sort of thing around here."

    But Toney, who checked in three years ago as just another drug-addled soul, always kept a scrapbook. And in that scrapbook he kept a birth certificate.

    He's only 6 feet 1, but he does have O'Neal's smile, and his lower jaw, and even his slow gait.

    As Toney straightened up and became a member of the Goodwill staff, driving a truck that delivered bread to homeless shelters, his credibility increased and everyone believed.

    "It's a pretty amazing story," Callahan says.

    Over the years, Toney has occasionally shared that story with the local newspaper, and he did so again last weekend. But with the Lakers arriving in town for the middle games of the NBA Finals, the news was too close for comfort.

    Sunday morning before Game 3 here, Phillip "Sarge" Harrison, O'Neal's career Army stepfather, was inside the mission's hallways, rapping on that front desk.

    He summoned Toney from his third-floor dormitory room and into the street, where he repeated rules that he had set many years ago.

    Recalled Toney: "He was upset and told me to stay away. I told him, I didn't want anything. I never wanted anything."

    Said Harrison later: "Of course he wants something. If Shaquille wasn't famous, we would have never heard from him. Why is he doing this? Why?"

    Toney has asked himself that same question and, now that he has been clean for three years, he says he has an answer.

    Said Toney: "Only one person can take a son away from you, and that's God."

    Said Harrison: "I wish he'd just be quiet. All these years ignoring his flesh and blood, and he shows up now?"


    Joseph Toney was a local basketball star. Lucille O'Neal worked down at the local drug store. They dated for three years until O'Neal graduated from high school.

    Then she became pregnant, just as Toney was turning to drugs. Toney was in the hospital with her when she gave birth to Shaquille. It was Toney who gave him the celebrated name.

    But soon, Toney was sent to federal prison in Lexington, Ky., on a conviction involving fraudulent checks.

    The way he tells the story: "When I came back home six years later, Lucille had already married Phillip, and I was out of the picture."

    Harrison tells a different story.

    "When he came back from prison, I saw him in the park, and we agreed that because he already had another child, I would be Shaquille's dad and take care of him," Harrison said. "We even shook hands on it."

    Toney said that while he agreed to give up parental rights, "I never said I didn't want to see my son again."

    The years passed, O'Neal moved to a military base in Germany, and Toney said all attempts to find him became fruitless.

    Said Toney: "Too much red tape."

    Said Harrison: "He never tried."

    Toney said he had given up, thinking his son would remain in Germany indefinitely, until the day he recognized Shaquille on TV during a high school all-star game.

    "I saw a guy dunk and I heard them say his name and I said, 'Oh my, that's him! That's my son! And look how big he is!' " Toney recalled.

    Toney said he tried to reach his son, phoning him at the basketball office at Louisiana State. But he said the return call came from Harrison.

    "He was really mad, told me to stay away," Toney recalled.

    Toney waited a couple of years until O'Neal played for the Orlando Magic. He flew to Orlando, contacted his coaches, and was told to wait for O'Neal near an exit after one of the games.

    "While I was standing there, they hustled Shaq out the other exit," he said. "So he was trying to avoid me."

    He was. He still is.

    Several years ago, O'Neal poured out his hurt in a rap song, "Biological Didn't Bother."

    Toney said this obvious pain is why he has finally stopped bothering.

    "I understand their situation, I feel for them," Toney said. "Phillip did a great job raising him. Probably a better job than I would have done. Shaq seems to be a nice young man. Things have turned out for the best."

    Toney said the only thing he wants is for his other two sons to meet their half-brother. That is what he told Harrison. Harrison said he would consider it.

    "I understand, it ain't those boys' fault," said Harrison.

    But as for Toney's involvement with his biological son, he has about as much chance right now as the Nets.

    His friends may call him "Shaq," but he clearly once made the choice to ignore that name. And now that the sports world is celebrating it, he cannot.

    Said Toney: "I still feel that I had a part in creating one of the greatest players in the world."

    Said Harrison: "Yeah. But he left him. Think about that. He left him."
  2. UNMKT4

    UNMKT4 Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Wow. There must be a lot more of the story that they did not cover because it seems a lot of hatred is still kept inside of these individuals.

    It's sad to see that even as famous as Shaq is, he's still like everybody else.

    It's touching in a way.
  3. mr_gootan

    mr_gootan Member

    May 23, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Wow. I met master seargant Harrison at Ft. Sam Houston. He had a bunch of O'Neal LSU pictures in his office. I always thought he was Shaq's real dad because he is also a HUGE man. I guess Ms. O'Neal likes really big men.
  4. Asian Sensation

    Oct 29, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Great Post Invisible.

    This really is a sad story. It portrays Shaqs dad as a bastard excuse the language. However, Shaq should give his father another chance. Forget the fame and money. Blood is thicker than whater. Everybody has made mistakes in their lives and it just so happens Joseph Toneys' was a bigger mistake. Shaq should definitley forgive him. Two wrongs don't make a right.
  5. lpbman

    lpbman Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Likes Received:
    If Shaq doesn't want to forgive his father, who are we to say he's right or wrong?

    it's his life, why do we feel the need to judge celebrities?
  6. Rocket River

    Rocket River Member

    Oct 5, 1999
    Likes Received:
    I'm not judging a Celebrity
    I'm judging a man.

    i like shaq. I really do . . he seems a nice guy
    Me and my father have a similar relationship
    but . . .we are friends. . .he is not DADDY or FATHER or POPS
    he is a friend of mine. . . he can be nothing more

    The taint . . the hatred . . the reason to make peace with his
    biological is for Shaq . . . not for his biological

    Hell his dad could have spent the last 10 years selling his
    super sperm :) . . . .come get the next shaq . . .trust me some
    women would do it. . .

    To me . . in this story Harrison has a bit more hatred and anger
    than I think he should. . . .something is missing about his relationship
    with Shaq's Biological. . . . .I truly beleive that.
    [we are incline to beleive the good sargent but . . .many a insecure man have done worse than move the family to germany to 'escape' a wife's ex]

    It is truly sadd. Making peace with his Biological will be Shaq's last bit of growing up. . .. Once he does that. I'm not saying give him money. I'm not saying speak with him everyday. Just say . / . .Hey. .. I feel this.. . .and I feel that . . .I don't beleive you when u say this .. or that .. . listen to his biological. . . and then he can say he gave the man a listening too. Clear his soul. . his conscience.

    Rocket River
    - sometimes. . . you just have to swallow the bitter pill
  7. Smokey

    Smokey Contributing Member

    Oct 3, 1999
    Likes Received:
    I don't feel sorry for Toney. He chose the path he took. If he wanted to see his son, he would have persued it when Shaq was younger - before Shaq became Shaq. Now he looks like he wants a piece of Shaq. He needs to move on.

    If I'm Shaq I would meet with Toney and tell him to move on. No friends. No contact. He shouldn't even go around telling people he's Shaq's dad cause he's not.
  8. TexasG

    TexasG Member

    Apr 4, 2001
    Likes Received:
    I swear it sounds like you're describing me right here.

    I completely agree. I went 17 years without ever seeing my dad. During that time I built up a dangerous amount of anger towards my dad. It took a near death experience for me to realize that the only way to get rid of that anger was to make peace with my dad. If we became friends then cool, if not then also cool, at least I tried.

    That's a very good point I personally never thought about. Shaq should take that into consideration. If he wanted money he could already have taken advantage of Shaq's success and there would have been nothing Shaq could have done about it. He didn't and to me that says a lot about the man.

    This is actually not that uncommon. I don't think that there is anything being left out here. I think it has more to do with Harrison's love for Shaq. In all but one sense of the word he's Shaq's dad. It probably kills him inside knowing that another man is actually Shaq's biological father. Also he wasn't there when Shaq needed him most, so he may feel that he has no right to be there now. It's understandable but it's really not his decision.

    I don't think Shaq realizes how much weight would be lifted off his shoulders by doing this. The scary thing for the rest of the NBA is that if he did this it might actually make him a better basketball player.

    Again, agreed.

    I would like to say that it's posts like this that are the reason I enjoy this site so much. I'm a Mavs fan so sometimes some of the things you guys say piss me off but then I read a topic/post like this and I realize why I stick around.
  9. ScreamingRocketJet

    Sep 22, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Shaq has a father...the guy who raised him.

    Some guy had sex with his mother 30 years ago and then left...that doesn't make him his father.

Share This Page