The father of former NRL player Alex McKinnon has broken his silence on his son’s shock split with his high school sweetheart Teigan, saying the situation was ‘very sad’.
Their love story captured the hearts of Australians when Ms McKinnon, then 20, pledged to stand by the footy player after he became a quadriplegic after breaking his spine in a three-man tackle playing for the Newcastle Knights against the Melbourne Storm in 2014.
The couple were together for 12 years and married for five, however, on Sunday, it was revealed their relationship secretly came to an end in January.
He’s doing good, but it’s really sad – what can you do?,’ Mr McKinnon Snr said.
‘I know he’s a good boy, but Alex is a private bloke.
‘It’s just very, very sad.’
On Tuesday, he was spent quality time with his son and three-year-old granddaughter, Harriet.
Ms McKinnon was pictured with Harriet on Monday – wearing a purple top and white jeans while the preschooler rode a tricycle down the street.
Channel Nine sports columnist Danny Weidler shocked the sports community when revealed news of the separation on Sunday – the day after they were pictured together celebrating their twin daughters’ first birthday.
He said the former Newcastle Knights player ‘has no issue with the story being written’ about their break-up, but Ms McKinnon said in a statement on Instagram later that evening that the news was ‘made public without our consent’.
‘At this time, Alex and I are navigating this period of change together privately,’ she wrote on Instagram.
‘Due to our situation being made public without our consent, we are asking for our privacy to please be respected at this time.
‘We are together concentrating on protecting our family and children. We have the utmost respect for each other, and are both very grateful for the people, as well as all of the support that we have in our lives.’
Mr McKinnon issued a statement on the same day but, unlike his former partner, did not say intimate details were spilled without permission.
He wrote: ‘Due to our situation being made public, we ask that you respect out privacy as we concentrate on our family and children, as they are our main priority.’
On Monday, Ms McKinnon was spotted for the first time since the devastating break-up was announced.
The pair had actually parted ways in January – four months before the couple went public with their split.
Despite keeping up appearances, there have been subtle signs on the high profile couple’s Instagram pages recently that the status of the relationship had changed.
Ms McKinnon hasn’t been wearing her wedding ring in social media photos, raising eyebrows among her followers.
And while both parties attended the same friend’s wedding in March, they posted individual photos on their respective Instagram account, which did not feature one another.
On March 24, 2014, following a dangerous tackle in a game against the Melbourne Storm, McKinnon underwent operations to fuse his C4 and C5 vertebrae and spent five days in a coma.
When recalling the incident to ABC journalist Stan Grant in 2020, he said he ‘knew straight away’ that he was seriously injured.
‘I remember hearing the noise, I remember trying to move but not being able to, I remember playing surrounding me and looking at me – clear conversations, I could hear everything.
‘I really just felt embarrassed … I suppose it takes you back to being a man and what your identity is there – strong, unflappable, unwavering – I just felt that it was embarrassing that I was laying there, unable to move, and I just felt like a real failure.’
The day after he woke from his coma, doctors gave him the shattering news that he would likely remain a quadriplegic and never walk again.
Ms McKinnon, who was only 20, vowed to support him throughout his recovery.
‘How can you go from loving someone for them getting injured and then saying I don’t love them anymore?’ she asked at the time.
Two weeks after the accident, the former Newcastle Knights and St George Illawarra player proposed to her from his hospital bed.
He vowed to stand up at their wedding – which is exactly what he did during their fairytale nuptials in 2017.
Tears flowed as the 25-year-old rose to his feet and exchanged vows at the private reception, surrounded by 150 of their closest friends and family.
‘I was pretty shocked to tell you the truth. I couldn’t believe Alex stood for all that time,’ Ms McKinnon told New Idea at the time.
‘It was lovely to be able to look him in the eye, rather than looking down at him in his wheelchair. It just made the ceremony that much more intimate.