Pictured: AFL record holder Michael Tuck, who was a seven-time premiership-winning player for the Hawthorn Football Club
Hawthorn legend Michael Tuck has shared the heartbreaking last moments he shared with his footy star son before he took his own life.
AFL star Shane Tuck was suffering from a severe case of degenerative brain disease before his shock death rocked the footy world in July last year.
Michael Tuck said Shane expressed his love for his parents in his final hours, during an emotional interview on the You Cannot Be Serious podcast, the Herald Sun reported.
Tuck lived with his parents during the last 18 months of his life and continually told them ‘he didn’t feel like himself’.
His mother Fay said Tuck was intelligent enough to know there was something wrong with his brain.
Tuck said the family had a few documents that indicate Shane’s health was declining in 2012, well before he began his boxing career in 2015.
Mr Tuck said he and his wife tried to help their son while he was alive, but said Shane had known his condition was worse than what he had shared with his parents.
‘I’ll be honest with you, the night before he did “the business”, or the morning, or whatever it was, he came up and hugged me and Fay, and said “I love you Mum” and “I love you Dad”,’ he said.
Michael Tuck (right) said his son Shane (left) hugged his parents and expressed his love for them in the final hours before he took his own life
Michael Tuck said he pleaded with his son not to do anything he would regret on the night before his death, just six months ago.
‘I just said to him “Don’t you do anything stupid”. I meant that in a loving kind of way,’ he said.
Mr Tuck said he and Fay checked on their son at different periods throughout the night.
‘We checked on him at three o’clock in the morning … and found him about eight in the morning gone.’
Mr Tuck said he doesn’t think his family will ever get over the tragic death of their talented son, saying life will always feel a little bit different.
The 38-year-old is the third AFL player to be diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), with the condition only able to be identified after death.
Tuck, pictured with wife Katherine in 2012, is the third AFL player to have been diagnosed with CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), with the condition only able to be identified after death
Tuck’s brain was donated by his parents to the Australian Sports Brain Bank for research, who found the former Richmond player had Stage Three, borderline Stage Four, CTE.
The post-mortem revealed the talented sportsman had the worst case of CTE ever detected in a VFL-AFL footballer.
‘It’s the worst case I’ve seen so far,’ neuropathologist professor Michael Buckland told The Age.
‘It was actually quite shocking, the degree of disease he had.’
The diagnosis reportedly gave his wife Katherine, known to friends as Kat, and their two children some kind of solace.
Tuck’s brain was donated to the Australian Sports Brain Bank for research, who found the former Richmond player had Stage Three, borderline Stage Four, CTE
The condition, which can cause depression and suicidal thoughts, is linked to repeated head knocks and concussions.
Tuck, who played 173 games for Richmond between 2004 and 2013 and kicked 74 goals, died after succumbing to a long battle with mental illness.
The father-of-two’s death followed the passing of AFL great Danny ‘Spud’ Frawley who died when his car slammed into a tree near Ballarat, Victoria, on September 9, 2019.
The 56-year-old had been vocal about his battle with depression in the lead up to his death and his loved ones had noticed a change in his behaviour.
It was later found that Frawley had Stage Two CTE.
Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer was the first AFL player to be diagnosed with CTE in February last year.
The 84-year-old died in August 2019 after battling Alzheimer’s.
‘Those cases span three generations of players. What’s disturbing is that the worst case is the most recent, and also the youngest,’ Prof Buckland said.
What is chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)?
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a degenerative brain disease likely caused by repeated head traumas.
CTE can result in confusion, depression, dementia, explosiveness, aggression, and suicidal thoughts.
The symptoms don’t develop immediately after a head injury but they progress years or decades after repeated head trauma.
The disease can only be detected after death through brain tissue analysis.
The condition has been found in former players of American football, ice hockey, soccer, rugby union and others exposed to repeated head injury.
Tuck debuted for Richmond in 2004 and retired from the game in 2013, before a boxing stint in 2015 (pictured)
At Tuck’s funeral, his wife Kat said the AFL star’s biggest achievements were his children, Ava and Will.
‘I know you have the peace and contentedness and calm that this life did not afford you … and that your suffering has stopped and that you were so strong,’ Mrs Tuck said.
‘We know that your two biggest achievements were Will and Ava, and I will keep your memory living on in their lives.’
The Giants and the Tigers take a minutes silence in memory of Richmond’s Shane Tuck during the Round 8 AFL match between the GWS Giants and Richmond Tigers at Giants Stadium in Sydney, Friday, July 24, 2020
Tuck debuted for Richmond in 2004 and retired from the game in 2013, before a boxing stint in 2015.
He is the son of former AFL record holder Michael Tuck, who was a seven-time premiership-winning player for the Hawks.
The degenerative brain disease has been known to affect boxers since the 1920s but has been found in other sports in recent years.
The first official case in another sport was an American NFL player in 2005. Other sports followed, including ice hockey, soccer and rugby union.
Researchers rely on the donation of dead athletes in their attempts to understand CTE.