Shaunie Henderson Was ‘Nervous’ to Write About Ex Shaquille O'Neal in Upcoming Memoir (Exclusive)

The reality star exclusively tells PEOPLE she will release her memoir "UNDEFEATED: Changing the Rules and Winning on My Own Terms" in May

<p>Gallery Books; Thaddaeus McAdams / WireImage</p> Shaunie O

Gallery Books; Thaddaeus McAdams / WireImage

Shaunie O'Neal releases memoir

Shaunie Henderson is ready to tell her story.

The Basketball Wives star and ex-wife to NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal, who now goes by Shaunie Henderson after marrying pastor Keion Henderson in 2022, exclusively tells PEOPLE she will release her memoir, UNDEFEATEDChanging the Rules and Winning on My Own Terms, via Gallery Books, this May.

"I always had a fear of sharing too much and of telling my story that involved anybody else," Henderson, 49, says. "I didn't want to disrespect someone else's story, even if it was a part of mine, but as I get older and do more things in the entertainment industry, I found that people have a misconception of who I am."

The mother-of-five married O'Neal, 51, in 2002, and the couple share four children.

Over the course of their relationship, which began in the late 1990s and ultimately ended in 2009 when Henderson filed for separation, the couple struggled with infidelity, which O'Neal admitted to in his 2011 memoir, Shaq Uncut: My Story.

Cassy Athena/Getty Shareef O'Neal (L) poses with Shaquille O'Neal (C) and Shaunie O'Neal (R) as he celebrates 18th birthday party at West Coast Customs on January 13, 2018 in Burbank, California.
Cassy Athena/Getty Shareef O'Neal (L) poses with Shaquille O'Neal (C) and Shaunie O'Neal (R) as he celebrates 18th birthday party at West Coast Customs on January 13, 2018 in Burbank, California.

Henderson says she isn't "throwing him under the bus or anything like that" in the chapters reflecting on her marriage to O'Neal.

Still, "anything involving Shaquille is always a sketchy thing because he is who he is, and despite what our story is, no one ever wants to hear what could come across as not the greatest reputation," says Henderson, who admits that O'Neal's public confessions about the demise of their marriage "made it easier" to share her side. "I was like, oh, okay, he told on himself," she laughs.

"I'm literally telling my story and my journey, which he was a part of," she continues. "So I've always been a little nervous about that, but I think I did a good job at sharing my story without destroying him because that's not my intent at all, ever."

Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty DENVER - FEBRUARY 18: Shaquille O'Neal poses with wife Shaunie at the got milk? Rookie Challenge game during 2005 NBA All-Star Weekend at Pepsi Center on February 18, 2005 in Denver, Colorado. The Sophomores defeated the Rookies 133-106. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2005 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Related: Shaquille O'Neal Felt 'Lost' After Divorce: 'I Had the Perfect Situation ... I Was Just Being Greedy'

Henderson tells PEOPLE that her ex-husband "doesn't know" what she's written about in the chapters discussing their marriage in the memoir. "[Shaquille] has not read it. I haven't shared it with anybody but my husband and my publicist at this point," says Henderson, adding that she plans to share the contents with O'Neal before publication. "Anybody that's in it, I think they deserve to know what's in it before everybody else does."

Henderson says she's excited for fans of Basketball Wives to read Undefeated because the book "isn't like a tell-all from behind the scenes, but it does express my feelings toward the show and towards the women," she explains.

Related: Shaunie O'Neal on Her 'Great' Co-Parenting Relationship with Shaq: 'Took a Long Time to Get There'

<p>Gallery Books</p> Shaunie Henderson memoir

Gallery Books

Shaunie Henderson memoir

In addition to appearing on the long-running series, Henderson is an executive producer of the franchise. "I think it'll be a different side of what they think they know," she explains.

"I get a lot of slack of like, oh, you're depicting Black women in a negative sense, and that was never my intention and never the goal," Henderson says. "In the book, I'm able to share my heart and how I feel about it."

In May 2022, the reality star married pastor Keion Henderson in a romantic ceremony in Anguilla, which she says took her on "a different journey in life."

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Now, she hopes her story will inspire women to become "financially, emotionally and mentally independent" and aware of how quickly things can change. "There was a point in my life when I was completely dependent on my ex-husband and I didn't even realize it," Henderson says. "I didn't realize it at all until we got a divorce."

"I didn't even realize I was so co-dependent until it slapped me in the face," Henderson continues. "And that's on me. I take responsibility for that. It's not Shaquille's fault, that's not anybody else's fault, that's mine. But that's how I got to where I am right now, was that light bulb moment or reality moment that hit me that I had to do something to change the trajectory of life for me and my kids."

Henderson tells PEOPLE, "I just try to just share who I am in this book and make it make sense. I mean, maybe people will get it, maybe they won't. But I'm not doing it for people. I think I'm doing it just to kind of free myself."

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