In the documentary ‘Ronnie O’Sullivan: The Edge of Everything’, the British snooker legend (47) talked about his father, who was sentenced to life for murder when O’Sullivan was sixteen. “I would much rather have had a normal family life and not started a snooker career,” says probably the best snooker player of all time.
LOOK. O’Sullivan very candid in documentary about his life
The tragedy occurred in the early 1990s. Saying he wanted to save his own life, Ronnie O’Sullivan Senior, who made his fortune as a sex shop operator in Soho, murdered Bruce Ryan in a nightclub in Chelsea. That was the driver of Charlie Kray, the brother of the then notorious gangster twins Ronnie and Reggie. In the documentary, O’Sullivan Senior talks about it for the first time, although he is not visible during the interview.
“I know I killed someone. But if I hadn’t done that then, I would have been dead myself. I still remember those first moments when they put me in the cell. All I could do was cry. Not out of pity, but for what I had done to my family. That prison sentence was a danger to the career of our son Ronnie.”
‘The Rocket’ also reflects on his father’s prison sentence, although he clearly has a hard time with it. Only after a pause of thirty seconds can he say something about it. The day in 1992 that he received the news of that punishment is particularly memorable to him. And especially the words that his dad had him transmit when he was escorted to prison. “’Tell my boy to win,’ I was told. That was the only thing. Typical my father.” In 2010, O’Sullivan Senior was released from prison in Derby after serving 18 years.
His mother Maria also plays a role in the documentary and she too has it, just like her husband off camera, about that particular day. Maria, who herself served a prison sentence for tax evasion during that period, speaks of the mistake she made then and for which her son never forgave her. “I couldn’t tell Ronnie that his father had to go to prison,” says Maria. “Three days later he left for Thailand. I simply let him leave three days early, hoping that Ronnie wouldn’t hear anything and his father would be free when he returned. That his punishment was purely for a mistake.”
“So a certain John took him to Thailand early, but while he was there I received a phone call from Barry Hearn (O’Sullivan’s manager, ed.). ‘Maria, you have to tell him today, because tomorrow it will be in all the newspapers. So I called Ronnie to tell him. But afterwards I only heard him shouting on the phone. He lost consciousness there on the spot. I should never have let him leave for Thailand.” Maria, in a sobbing voice: “I should have told him right away, yes. But I just wanted to protect him. That was my mistake… and he never forgave me afterwards.”
The ‘healthiest thing’ then would have been to quit snooker. Nothing could prepare me for that news. I just couldn’t grasp it.
In the documentary, O’Sullivan, an incredibly talented snooker player as a teenager, admits that his father’s prison sentence could have destroyed both his career and life. “The ‘healthiest thing’ then would have been to stop playing snooker. Nothing could prepare me for that news. I just couldn’t grasp it. But I don’t want to put everything on that situation with my father,” said the seven-time world champion, who struggled with alcohol and drug addiction for seven years. “But what I do know is that I would have much preferred a normal family life rather than a snooker career. That I shouldn’t have gone through that. Forget snooker. Just do the normal thing.”
In 1998, O’Sullivan – then just 23 – lost a Masters title after testing positive for cannabis. Two years later, he entered rehab to treat his addictions. O’Sullivan has improved in recent years, although he still suffers from mental problems. For example, last week he forfeited the Champion of Champions. “Mentally I feel exhausted and stressed. I want to take care of my mental health and take care of my body. Sorry to my fans. But I will come back stronger.”
O’Sullivan has three children of his own, two daughters and a son. A daughter Taylor-Ann (born 1996) from a relationship with Sally Magnus, who moved in with him when both his mother and father were in prison. But that relationship ended after two years and he maintains little or no contact with Taylor-Ann. The snooker legend then dated Jo Langley, who gave him Lily (born 2006) and Ronnie Jr (2007). They were there when he was crowned world champion for the seventh time in Sheffield last year.
The only one to cross the 1,000 century breaks mark
Judging from the honors list, Ronnie O’Sullivan is the best snooker player ever with his seven world titles. Together with Mark Williams and John Higgins, he is the only one to become world champion in three different decades. O’Sullivan also won the UK Championship and the Masters seven times. In snooker’s three most prestigious tournaments, ‘The Rocket’ already has 21 victories. That’s three more than Stephen Hendry (18) and six more than Steve Davis (15). O’Sullivan is also the only player in snooker history to reach 1,000 century breaks.
LOOK. O’Sullivan beats Brecel in the Shanghai Masters final this year
Ronnie O’Sullivan opens up about difficult years: “Lost myself to alcohol and drugs for seven years”
The world’s best snooker player or not, Taylor-Ann still wants nothing to do with father Ronnie O’Sullivan: “He will never meet my daughter”
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