Shaquille O'Neal's wife gives birth to baby boy
April 19, 2003
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) -- Shaquille O'Neal's wife gave birth to a baby boy early Saturday, eliminating any chance that the Los Angeles Lakers center might skip a playoff game to witness the birth.
Shaunie O'Neal gave birth to the couple's third child at 1:52 a.m. at a Los Angeles-area hospital, team spokesman John Black said. He did not provide the baby's name or other details.
O'Neal was excused from Saturday's practice. He was scheduled to fly on his own to Minneapolis late Saturday for Sunday's opening game of a first-round playoff series against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
``We're really happy for the delivery of a child and the fact that everything's safe and sound and we can go forward from there,'' coach Phil Jackson said. ``Hopefully he can get to Minneapolis, get some rest and be ready to play the first game. That's a pivotal game for every team.''
O'Neal had said he could not rule out missing a game to witness the birth. The due date was April 27, the same day as Game 4 of the best-of-seven series between the Timberwolves and the Lakers.
Teammate Kobe Bryant said he would not be surprised if O'Neal had a big game Sunday despite his expected late arrival in Minneapolis.
``You just roll off the adrenaline,'' said Bryant, who scored 48 points in a 2001 playoff game at Sacramento after leaving the team to attend to a personal matter.
The birth comes days after the death of O'Neal's maternal grandfather, Sirlester O'Neal. Funeral services are expected to be held this week in South Carolina, Black said. O'Neal is expected to attend.