Shaq with wife Shaunie and kids in 2008
He was also working overtime, installing computer and audio-visual equipment in the homes of Shaq’s many mistresses throughout the country. According to Darling, the NBA player had relationships with roughly 30 women at any one time - practically a girl in every city.
Among the mistresses, Shawn claims that there were five “main ones” who received more of O’Neal’s attention. There were also frequent wire transfers to the women, upwards in the amount of $5K each time; money that Darling says Shaq would send “in a heartbeat.”
Meanwhile, Shaquille’s marriage had reached a breaking point, which Darling says was brought about by O’Neal’s trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers. By Shawn’s account, Shaunie and the kids weren’t willing to make the move to Ohio and leave their friends behind to be with the father they rarely saw. (Right: Shaq pictured with wife Shaunie)
“The stories that are out there about Shaquille being an absentee father It’s no different now than it was when they were together,” Darling reveals. “He was never there.”
After a huge blowup in October of 2009, O’Neal reported to training camp, leaving his family behind
“A week would go by, two weeks go by, three weeks, four weeks It went to two months,” says Shawn. “He didn’t talk to the kids. I think he texted Shaunie twice in that time period [He] had cut them off. And it all boiled down to the kids didn’t want to move to Cleveland. That’s what the whole argument was.”
That argument, Darling says, led O’Neal to not only cut communications with his family, but he also stopped supporting them financially, maxing out Shaunie’s credit cards and releasing all staff associated with her from the payroll; an order that Darling says was sent via email - an email of which he has a copy.
For Shawn, it was the last straw. “It wasn’t about him being faithful; he cut the family off,” Darling says of his reason for what he did next.
Under the alias of “David,” Darling began to send a number of Shaquille’s emails and text messages -- all hosted on his domain -- to Shaunie’s lawyer, giving Shaunie more leverage in the divorce proceedings.
Shaq, not knowing that he was being betrayed by his friend, sought Darling’s help once again. This time, Shawn says that O’Neal wanted him to bug Shaunie’s computer so he could get into her email account and find out what she knew about his other relationships.
Darling agreed, but when he arrived at Shaunie’s house, rather than installing the keylogger, as he was hired to do, Shawn says that instead he revealed himself to Shaunie as “David,” and told her about Shaq’s plan to hack into her email.
Shawn suggested that she give O’Neal the password herself, but control what information was being sent, telling her, “The money that he threw to me, he’s gonna get it done. It’s gonna happen. Whether it’s me, or someone else, he’s gonna get it.”
Darling says that he then gave Shaunie half of the money that Shaquille had given him to bug her computer to help her out financially.
Unbeknownst to Shaq, Darling continued to send emails and texts to Shaunie’s team. Soon, they came across messages between O’Neal and one Vanessa Lopez; a mistress whom Shawn says no one -- not even Shaq’s closest friends -- knew about. From there, the focus changed.
“The goal was to help her go public; to get whatever she needed, so she could go public, so that Shaunie could use that as her catalyst to leave,” says Darling.
Together, Shaunie and Darling reached out to Lopez (pictured left), who informed them of a pending police investigation “regarding someone breaking into her phone system, deleting messages, and changing her passwords.”
Knowing that he had information that could help her case and connect it to Shaquille, Shawn continued to communicate with Vanessa with the hope that she’d soon come forward. But Shaunie grew impatient.
“Shaunie, I guess couldn’t want for something to happen, so she made a story. She started leaking the emails,” charges Darling. “Her group started leaking the emails, and that’s what raised the flags for Shaquille.”
To help protect his identity, Shawn says that Shaunie’s team went as far as planting fake emails in her account to make it appear as though it had been hacked, and that the same person who was giving her information about Shaq’s relationships was also selling the emails to the tabloids
Apparently, it worked. Darling claims that after the emails began to spread, Shaquille went “ballistic,” and called him “throwing all kinds of money around,” asking Shawn for passwords to various accounts and to help him find out who was sending the messages to Shaunie.
At this point, Shawn realized that it was only a matter of time before Shaquille discovered who was sending the emails. Little did he know, the very person he was trying to help would eventually out him, and launch a chain of events that would change his life forever.
Please see Part 1 of the series here. Tomorrow, Shaquille O’Neal discovers that Shawn Darling has betrayed him. Plus, Darling details the plot that he claims Shaquille O’Neal and several current and retired law enforcement officials created to have him arrested on charges of child pornography as our exclusive coverage continues.