12/30/2002 at 01:00 AM EST
Los Angeles Lakers superstar center Shaquille O'Neal, 30, married his longtime girlfriend, Shaunie Nelson, at a top-secret ceremony Thursday night at the Beverly Hills Hotel, according to the Associated Press.
While security guards and dogs reportedly shooed away fans and press photographers from the hotel's ballroom, the 7-ft., 330-lb. athlete wed the mother of his two children. (He has two other children from a previous relationship.) The new bride and groom are also expecting a boy in May.
A TV news helicopter, though, managed to capture film of O'Neal standing with his bride as they prepared to take their vows before friends and fellow Lakers, says the AP.
"This is a great event for Shaq, I'm really happy for him and his wife and it was a lovely event, so I'm glad I got to attend it," rookie teammate Kareem Rush told KCAL-TV.
"It was fabulous. It was true to Shaquille's class and grace," said Cheryl Cleamons, wife of Lakers assistant coach Jim Cleamons.
O'Neal remained tightlipped over any wedding plans before the ceremony Thursday. His teammates did the same.
"We know, and it's only for us," said Lakers forward Mark Madsen, while Lakers guard Brian Shaw, unofficially confirming that a ceremony was taking place, divulged, "Since we didn't find out until the last minute what was going on, I didn't know it was black tie."