AFL icon Rex Hunt reveals tragic family fallout amid tough diagnosis

The legendary commentator has opened up about his battle.

AFL icon Rex Hunt (pictured right) has opened up about his bipolar depression diagnosis to Sam Newman following a late night scare in Geelong. (Getty Images)
AFL icon Rex Hunt (pictured right) has opened up about his bipolar depression diagnosis to Sam Newman following a late night scare in Geelong. (Getty Images)

AFL icon Rex Hunt has opened up about his bipolar depression diagnosis following a late night scare earlier in the year. In January, the legendary commentator was driving along the Princes Highway towards Geelong at 2am when he pulled over and called police for assistance.

The 74-year-old was then taken to hospital where his friend and former AFL player Sam Newman visited him to check on his wellbeing. And a few months on from the incident, Hunt has appeared on the Newman's podcast, You Cannot Be Serious, to talk about the tough incident that saw him placed in mental health care for seven weeks.

'FIX IT': Mark Robinson tears AFL star to shreds in fiery on-air spray

SO SAD: Sandy Roberts announcement leaves fans devastated

“Life will never ever be the same,” Hunt said on the podcast. “Mental illness is a nasty word for some, but until it happens to you, I had no idea the ups and downs your mind goes through when you are suffering what I am suffering (from)," he added.

Hunt admitted that his battle with his mental health started seven years ago after becoming addicted to opioids after a neck injury. This saw him have a 'meltdown' one night after Footy Nightline, on 3AW, which resulted him ending up in a mental health facility in Victoria.

Rex Hunt (pictured left) said he isn't close with his children anymore when speaking to Sam Newman on his podcast. (Photo by Kristian Dowling/Getty Images)
Rex Hunt (pictured left) said he isn't close with his children anymore when speaking to Sam Newman on his podcast. (Photo by Kristian Dowling/Getty Images)

The AFL icon was talking about the issue to help people understand what someone can be going through with mental health issues and how it can impact you when you least expect it.

“If I can help somebody to understand that you can be what is normal, or quite normal in your particular mind, and the next moment you are in a straight jacket down in a facility," he told Newman. “It is a chemical imbalance in the brain and I have been diagnosed with bipolar depression, high highs and low lows.”

Rex Hunt details family breakdown

Unfortunately for Hunt his family relationship has suffered in recent years. Hunt admitted he wasn't close with his children anymore.

“I hold myself totally responsible for what has happened, but it is a very private thing between Lynne (his wife) and I, but we are working on it,” he added. “My children certainly aren’t (close). The whole family has busted up, simple as that, it is very, very sad, but things happen."

Hunt played 202 games with Richmond, Geelong and St Kilda, winning two premierships with the Tigers. After his retirement he forged a successful commentary career and was the star of iconic TV show 'Rex Hunt's Fishing Adventure'.

He has become embroiled in controversy in recent months, firstly for comments he made about Channel 7 commentator and AFLW trailblazer Daisy Pearce. The 73-year-old was condemned across the footy world last July after expressing his opinion about TV networks having to cater for "equal genders" in their broadcasting teams after Pearce replaced Wayne Carey on Friday night footy.

He later told the Herald Sun: “Daisy is terrific and she’ll go well coaching and I understand you’ve got to have a lady there. But which bright spark at Channel 7 thought to get rid of (Carey) - he or she is wrong.”

Readers seeking support and information can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.