Sulking with the Hulk
Saved from the edge of despair by his "American Gladiators" co-star Laila Ali,
Wrestling superstar Hulk Hogan had finally reached his breaking point.
All alone in his empty mansion, mixing rum and Xanax, shattered by an impending divorce and a family tragedy. Depressed, he sat there holding a gun to his head contemplating suicide.
Hogan’s friends and fellow stars of a revival of “American Gladiators” knew of his emotional condition and called to check up on him. He lied and said he was alright, even as he moved closer to actually pulling the trigger.
That’s when his co-star came to his rescue.
Hogan recalls, “All of a sudden the phone rang, and it was Laila, and she said, ‘Hey, what’s going on? You’re on the set. You’re all depressed. We’re worried about you. You going to be OK?’ ”
“She called with no agenda, just to say hi and check on me,” Hogan said. “It snapped me out of it. At that moment I switched gears. I got sick and tired of being sick and tired. Her voice saved my life, it really did.”
Hogan's complete accounting of this can be found inside the first chapter of his just-published book, “My Life Outside the Ring.”
His life-altering moment occurred back in August 2007. Hogan and his family had just been through a tragic auto accident involving Nick, his teenage son.
That accident did not leave Nick seriously injured, but caused severe brain damage to his passenger and best friend, John Graziano, who had not been wearing a seat belt in Nick's car.
Nick was charged with reckless driving involving serious bodily injury, use of a motor vehicle in commission of a felony, a person under the age of 21 operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of 0.02 or higher and illegal window tint.
Shortly after the wreck, Nick's blood alcohol content was tested at 0.055.
In addition, Hogan’s wife, Linda, had recently filed for divorce. The 23 year long marriage, which produced two children, daughter Brooke and son Nick, had been disintegrating for years.
“I used to brag I was the only world’s champion that was never divorced,” said Hogan, who also admits in his book to an extramarital affair.
He writes about his wife’s drinking and suspected drug usage, how her increasingly controlling behavior got to the point where it became uncomfortable for him to even have friends over to his sprawling Florida home anymore.
At the moment he almost took his own life, Hogan had just returned to that home after spending time out of the USA to film a South American version of the popular “American Gladiators.” He was deeply saddened that none of his family members had visited him during his time away, and when he came home, the house was completely empty.
“My son had this horrible accident with his best friend. My wife and I had a marriage that had been unraveling for a long time. It was a bad situation,” Hogan reported. “All of a sudden I got into this downward spiral and started thinking real negatively.
“When I went to the house, every room was empty,” he continued. “All my dogs and all the animals were gone. There were pictures of my family all over the house. Every closet I went in, all the clothes were gone. And it just came over me, it just happened. I just started sitting there and I was overwhelmed with depression.”
Hogan said that things had been deteriorating for years. “It got to the point where everything was so negative,” Hogan admitted. “A few years before the divorce, I started praying to be happy. It got to the point it couldn’t go on anymore.”
Although, he is now being sued by Graziano’s family for what Hogan says is more money than he earned in his long career, the wrestling icon claims that he’s never been happier.
He said he wrote his book to let his fans know that they can survive their troubles, too.
“It’s been a tough couple of years,” he said of the world in general. “The way things are and the things people are going through, I just felt if I could survive through this and change my thinking and switch gears, I just wanted people to know that life is good. You don’t have to run around with your head down. Stay positive. Stay happy.
“For me to change my thinking and be happier than I’ve ever been, I just wanted people to know my story,” Hogan added.
One of the most popular professional wrestlers of all time, Hulk Hogan was originally born Terrence Bollea in 1953.
Raised in Florida, Hogan gained an early interest in music, playing guitar and bass in a number of rock bands in the Florida area during his early adult life.
After a brief stint at the University of South Florida, he became more interested in body building, and followed a friend's suggestion to try his hand at pro wrestling.
By the early '80s, Hogan had won an NWA championship and become involved with the WWF, where he soon became one of the most recognized figures in professional wrestling.
He continued his wrestling career well into the 1990's, returning for special appearances in the 2000's...
Later, he tried his hand at acting, appearing in the movie Rocky III in 1982. He also landed roles in Suburban Commando and Mr. Nanny.
Starting in 2005, Hogan, his wife Linda and their two children, starred in a popular candid realty series Hogan Knows Best, which followed the adventures of the eccentric household.