AFL legend Michael Tuck says the family has been shaken to the core by the sudden death of son Shane.
The Hawthorn great spoke on Tuesday of the family’s grief and frustration that the 38-year-old was unable to conquer a battle with his inner demons.
‘It’s hard to explain right now … He’s your son and he’s gone. He was a big, strong kid and he just had a few issues and he couldn’t get rid of them and that was the only way out,’ Michael told the Herald Sun.
Daily Mail Australia revealed earlier on Tuesday Tuck had fought and ultimately lost a lifelong fight with depression.
His father urged others struggling with mental illness not to suffer alone.
Hawthorn great Michael Tuck (pictured with his children, Renee, left, Shane when he was nine years old, and Travis
The father of AFL legend Shane Tuck has revealed the family has been shaken to the core by his son’s unexpected death
‘A lot of men think they’re all right and they’re actually not, and the best help they can get is telling people actually how bad they are, and not saying, ”I’m all right, I’m all right”,’ he told the paper.
‘It was bit like that (with Shane), he kept it all in because he was a tough, strong man … He didn’t mean anything by it, he just couldn’t admit he had a real bad problem.’
Michael said he is trying to remember the happy times from their past to help him through the grieving process.
Flying High: Shane Tuck blasts past Kangaroo Ben Warren in a 2010 clash. He was the son of footy legend Michael Tuck and the brother of Travis Tuck, who also played AFL footy
He described his late son as a ‘man’s man’ who created his own legacy through hard work and perseverance.
The family has been inundated with messages of sympathy and support and overwhelmed with flowers.
Tuck, who played 173 games for Richmond between 2004 and 2013 and kicked 74 goals, died on Monday.
Another former Hawthorn great, who wished to remain anonymous, told Daily Mail Australia his struggle with depression was no secret among those that knew him.
Shane Tuck, a Life Member of Richmond Football Club, died on Monday. Tuck is pictured with wife Kat ahead of the 2012 Brownlow Medal
Michael Tuck holds the premiership trophy after winning the 1989 AFL Grand Final
‘They knew at Hawthorn and they knew it at Richmond,’ he said.
Tuck had been drafted by the Hawks from the Dandenong Stingrays as a rookie, getting the opportunity to represent the club for whom his father Michael played an extraordinary 426 games – a league record that stood until 2016 – and won seven premierships.
However Shane was released by Hawthorn after the 2001 season without playing a single game.
The rejection was one of many blows the elder Tuck took during his long battle with depression.
Tuck moved to the South Australian state league where he played well with West Adelaide and attracted the renewed attention of AFL scouts.
Richmond was the club which offered him a second chance at an AFL career, reckoning that dad Michael had been a late bloomer and Shane might be the same.
It was a gamble that paid off as he became a fixture in what was then a struggling Tigers team.
Daily Mail Australia has been told Richmond knew the young Tuck would need close management for him to achieve his full potential and so it proved.
‘He was a troubled soul right from the start,’ Daily Mail Australia was told. ‘He struggled with serious mental illness for a long, long time.’
Shane Tuck (pictured) is the son of Hawthorn Football Club record holder Michael Tuck
Shane Tuck lies on the ground after being knocked out in his bout by Lucas Miller of Australia at The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre in 2015. He lost his battle with the black dog of depression on Monday
The curse of mental illness has not been confined to just Shane.
In 2010, Tuck’s younger brother, Travis, became the first player to be suspended following a third strike under the AFL’s illicit drugs policy.
At the time, it was a huge story in footy mad Melbourne and the younger Tuck was forced to hide out in his home with reporters camped outside.
The then 22-year old avoided a fine and escaped a more severe penalty after the AFL tribunal took into account that he too had been suffering from depression.
Travis Tuck had been found unconscious by police and wound up in hospital.
At the time, the AFL’s own policy was criticised because clubs were not informed when players had copped two strikes.
Like many past AFL players, once they move on from AFL football, they are often left to deal with their mental demons alone.
Shane Tuck retired from the game as a 31-year-old in 2013, playing his first final in what proved his last AFL game.
After footy, he dabbled in a boxing career, rising through the amateur ranks to fight in five professional bouts between 2015 and August 2017.
He won three times, lost once and drew his last bout.
In a statement, the Tigers said it was mourning the loss of the ‘courageous and brave’ midfielder who was loved by teammates and fans.
Travis Tuck runs in 2010. He was suspended for 12 weeks that year after becoming the first ever AFL player to receive sanctions under the league’s three strikes drug policy. He had been suffering severe depression
Farewell: Shane Tuck walks off with team mates after his final match with the Tigers in 2013. He died aged just 38
Richmond CEO Brendon Gale said: ‘We’re incredibly saddened by the news of Shane’s passing, he will be missed enormously by everyone.
‘We send our deepest condolences to Shane’s family and loved ones – his wife Kat, children Will and Ava, parents Michael and Fay, and the extended Tuck family.
‘Shane was a warrior on the field, giving everything to the team each week, and a humble, fun-loving person off the field.’
Richmond will wear black armbands during this weekend’s clash with GWS.
The club wrote on Twitter: ‘An extremely brave and courageous warrior on-field. A big-hearted character off the field.
‘You will be missed enormously by everyone, Tucky.’
Hawthorn issued a statement on Monday night offering its condolences to the Tuck family.
‘On behalf of the Tuck family, the Hawthorn Football Club is deeply saddened to inform the football community of the passing of Shane Tuck,’ the statement read.
‘Shane passed away this morning at the age of 38.
‘Hawthorn Football Club and the entire football community extend their deepest condolences to the Tuck family and ask that their privacy is respected during this time.’
Former Carlton player Brendan Fevola (left) and Shane Tuck greet each other during the round one AFL match between the Carlton Blues and the Richmond Tigers at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 2015
Shane Tuck played 173 games for Richmond between 2004 and 2013 and kicked 74 goals. Tuck is pictured in 2010
Shane’s father Michael (pictured) is the Hawthorn Football Club record holder for the most senior games (426), most finals (39), most grand finals (11) and most premierships (7). He is pictured in 2003 with the newly designed Michael Tuck Medal awarded to the best player in the Wizard Cup Grand Final
Former AFL star Brendan Fevola paid tribute to the father-of-two on Twitter.
‘Will never forget our glory days in junior footy always lace out,’ he wrote.
‘Sending my love to Micheal, Fay, Renae and Travis. Kat, Will and Ava. RIP Tucky.’
Jack Riewoldt said the Richmond squad were rocked by Tuck’s shock death, The Herald Sun reported.
‘He was one of those players who you loved to spend time with. He became a cult figure, people loved him,’ Riewoldt said.
‘You always walked taller when you had Shane Tuck playing next to you. There was plenty to love about him. He was a footballer’s footballer.’
For confidential support call Lifeline: 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636.