Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 17
Like Tree28Likes

Thread: It's not easy being John McEnroe's son

  1. #1
    Elite Member rollo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    43,154

    Default It's not easy being John McEnroe's son

    Surviving the nightmare of being a McEnroe: First-ever interview with tennis star's son, whose mother was a heroin addict and grandad was a 'monster'


    • John McEnroe's son Kevin, 28, was arrested for attempting to buy cocaine
    • Nine months on, Kevin is clean of drugs after rehab and has written a novel
    • Writer says his arrest was the 'best thing that could have happened' to him

    By CAROLINE GRAHAM IN NEW YORK FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY
    PUBLISHED: 22:26, 2 May 2015 | UPDATED: 01:19, 3 May 2015




    +4



    Kevin McEnroe, the eldest son of John McEnroe

    His father was the enfant terrible of the tennis circuit whose formidable sporting prowess transformed him into the darling of American society.
    His mother, too, was precocious – an Oscar-winning child actress whose adult life was played out in the gossip columns.
    So when, just a few months ago, Kevin McEnroe, the eldest son of three-time Wimbledon winner John McEnroe, and Paper Moon star Tatum O’Neal, was arrested for attempting to buy cocaine, there were plenty who felt that it was only to be expected.
    After all, he was the product of a troubled marriage, and grandson of the volatile actor Ryan O’Neal and the beautiful Joanna Moore, an actress with well-documented drink problems, so it seemed that Kevin’s dalliance with drugs was but another predictable chapter in the tumultuous lives of the O’Neal/McEnroe dynasty.
    ‘They were the longest 20 hours of my life,’ Kevin says shaking his head, recalling the day he awoke curled up on the concrete floor of a cell after his arrest.
    ‘I was in there with drunks, drug addicts, pimps and other trash from the streets of New York. My head was pounding with the worst hangover ever. Then I leave jail and the first thing I see is the front page of the newspaper saying: ‘McEnroe and Tatum’s kid in drug bust.’
    ‘I knew I’d hit rock bottom.’
    Ultimately police dropped charges against him when it was discovered that the ‘cocaine’ he had bought was, instead, harmless baking soda.
    ‘You see,’ he says wryly. ‘I couldn’t even buy drugs right.’
    Today, McEnroe junior, 28, has turned a corner. Nine months on, Kevin is clean of drugs after a two-month stint in rehab – and has written a novel which will be published next week.
    Today, speaking for the first time about his turbulent early years when he was shunted between his warring, celebrity parents, he talks candidly of his battle for the approval of his tough, perfectionist father and his relationships with his heroin-addict mother and grandfather, from whom he is estranged.
    He tells, too, of his own struggle with drugs and of how he has ‘never felt worthy’ of the McEnroe name.
    For Kevin, the publication of his book, called Our Town, means he feels he has finally made his famous family proud of him.
    ‘Looking back, my arrest was the best thing that could have happened to me,’ he concedes. ‘It made me realise I needed to get serious about my life, about my writing. I truly believe it saved me.
    ‘Going to jail was a positive thing. It was a real turning point.’

    Ironically, his arrest came on the day he signed the deal to have his novel published. ‘I thought, “Let’s celebrate.”
    ‘I made a series of stupid decisions and the next thing I know it’s midnight and I’m getting busted on a street corner buying cocaine. It went from being the best day to the worst day of my life.
    ‘It was freezing in jail. I couldn’t sleep. I used two miniature Corn Flakes packets as a pillow. I lay there thinking ‘my book sold this morning and now I’m in jail. How f****d up is that?’
    Was there, also, a confrontation with his emotionally detached and authoritarian father to come?
    ‘Dad isn’t a lovey-dovey guy,’ he says, raising his eyebrows. ‘He’s disciplined, tough. As a kid, I was short and chubby [he’s 6ft 3in now]. He was tough on me. He wanted an athletic boy.
    ‘I did play tennis. Dad wanted us to know how to play. It was hard because when I played high school tennis people would see the name on the board and expect an incredible player. But I was only pretty good.
    ‘I also played basketball and Dad would come to the games. He would sit there and he wouldn’t clap or anything. When I walked off, if he nodded, it meant I did good. If he didn’t nod it meant I didn’t play well enough.
    ‘I mean, my whole life, I’ve been waiting for that nod and I’m not sure I’ve got it yet.’
    Charting his troubled childhood, Kevin speaks with touching honesty about how he and his siblings were torn between warring parents.
    John McEnroe and Tatum O’Neal married in 1986 and Kevin was born shortly afterwards, followed by his younger brother Sean, now 26 and an aspiring photographer, and Emily, 23, who works in the fashion industry and lives in Los Angeles with her mother.

    Tatum O'Neal with her son Kevin McEnroe back in 2003









    +4



    Tough love: Kevin being carried by father John in 1992. Kevin said his father was tough on him and isn't a 'lovey-dovey guy'

    The couple were ill-suited from the start, an incompatibility worsened by their drug use – hers chronic, his occasional. McEnroe has admitted using cocaine recreationally as his tennis career waned and the couple’s marriage imploded in divorce after eight years in 1994.
    A bitter and increasingly acrimonious custody battle followed which culminated in McEnroe being given sole custody because of his ex-wife’s drug addiction.
    Kevin recalls: ‘My mother met this younger guy, a musician, and started doing heroin. There was one year when she gave up on us kids and went to LA leaving us in New York with Dad.
    ‘The next time I saw her she weighed less than six stone,’ he says, as he sips tea in the sun dappled garden of his modest Brooklyn town house. It is a far cry from the luxurious, multi-million-pound mansion blocks of Manhattan’s Upper West side where he was raised.
    For many years he supported himself doing bar work. He now scratches a living on his writer’s salary: ‘I don’t have a trust fund,’ he says. ‘Money is tight.’

    Looking back, my arrest was the best thing that could have happened to me. It made me realise I needed to get serious about my life, about my writing. I truly believe it saved me

    He lives with girlfriend Lindsey, a vivacious young woman who works in the fashion industry. They met when both were night owls on the New York party scene.
    Though he clearly idolises his father, he paints a troubling portrait of a son unable to live up to his expectations – whether real or perceived.
    It is clear his parents, especially McEnroe, loom large in his life. Above the fireplace hangs a picture of a twentysomething John McEnroe in front of the Brooklyn Bridge. And there is a poignant portrait of himself as a golden-haired child with brother Sean and Tatum on the beach in Malibu. ‘When Mum is not on drugs, she’s great,’ Kevin says simply. ‘I love her very much.
    ‘At the moment she’s in a very good place. But when she’s on drugs it’s a nightmare.’
    Both parents, he said, had been ‘disappointed but supportive’ following his drugs bust. The McEnroe name is huge in America, and he felt he had brought it shame.
    There is also a framed picture of his grandmother Joanna during her early acting days (she met Ryan O’Neal on the set of a TV soap) before the ravages of her hedonistic lifestyle led to her death at just 63 in 1997.
    As Kevin speaks about his childhood it seems he is still seeking the love and approval of his father, a man who was famously driven to achieve perfection on the tennis court by his own father – an ex-military man – and who has spoken often about his relentless quest to be the best at everything.
    ‘I was talking to Dad the other day and he told me that not only did he want to win, he wanted to win his way,’ Kevin says. ‘I feel the same way. I am satisfied that my novel is the way I want it to be. I had offers to cash in and write about my family but I never wanted to do that.’
    However, his book is a thinly veiled fictionalistion of his family’s story, using different names.


    +4

    How Kevin's arrest for attempting to buy cocaine was reported. He said: ‘Going to jail was a positive thing. It was a real turning point'

    It charts
    the life of his grandmother, who endured a brutal marriage to Love Story star O’Neal before succumbing to drug and alcohol addiction.
    In the novel, Joanna’s character ‘Dorothy’ (his grandmother’s real middle name) is head butted in the face by her husband ‘Dale’ for talking to another man. It is a horrifying act of violence which Kevin insists actually happened.
    ‘The book is a mix of fact and fiction,’ he admits.
    ‘Like any first-time novelist, I write about what I know. And in my case it is my dysfunctional family.’
    And the McEnroe/O’Neal clan is certainly fertile ground.
    Outwardly, Kevin’s life was one of luxury and privilege. After McEnroe won custody of the children, they lived with him and second wife, singer Patty Smyth and their two daughters. By contrast, Tatum’s life was nomadic.
    Though Kevin attended a 28,000-a-year private school, he struggled. ‘There are positives about having the last name McEnroe but the negatives are very hard,’ he says.

    I feel so lucky that I’ve been given a chance to be a better man. I’ve got a novel I’m proud of and I am finally believing in myself

    ‘I would never tell anyone who my dad was. As soon as people find out they treat you differently. You get fake friends. They even treated me differently in rehab once they found out.’
    His memories of childhood are bleak. ‘My mother was a heroin addict,’ he states starkly. ‘Dad was always there for me but there was this horrible custody battle going on. I was forced into therapy which I hated. The custody fight went on for years and years.’
    To ‘fill the holes’ he began doing drugs at 11.
    At first it was cannabis. Then, he admits, he ‘drifted’ into cocaine and alcohol at university where he studied for a degree in English and then a Master’s in creative writing. While there, one lecturer encouraged his writing.
    ‘It was the first time I’d had that kind of encouragement. I went to this private school which was very competitive. Everyone was going to be an investment banker, and if you didn’t go that route you simply didn’t count. When I finally found someone who believed in my writing it was a revelation. It was the first time I felt someone truly believed in me.’
    But before long he became engulfed in the New York party scene: ‘When you’re hungover all the time it’s hard to be inspired.
    ‘I was out until 4am most nights. I hardly wrote. I had no discipline.
    ‘Cocaine was part of the culture. Drugs take away a lot of your momentum and focus. I did drugs because I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin.
    ‘I’d go to a club and it was easier to stand in line and go from the bar to the bathroom and do drugs. It gave me something to do other than stand there being uncomfortable.
    ‘People’s morals and convictions are messed up in that world. The night and the party is the most important thing. It was seeping into me. I couldn’t stand being there without doing drugs. I was tired, it became overwhelming.’


    +4



    John McEnroe (pictured) is a three-time Wimbledon winner and still plays tennis with people 25 years younger

    It was only after his arrest that Kevin was thrown a lifeline. He was granted bail and his family paid for rehab. ‘I was lucky my family had the resources,’ he admits.
    ‘I left the jail and the flashbulbs went off. I got home and the paparazzi were there. I felt mortified because I’d let everyone down. It was all about “McEnroe’s son the druggie”.
    Luckily, however, the poor publicity didn’t affect his book deal.
    ‘The publisher called and he said, “Kevin, we love your book and we still want to work with you.”
    ‘I burst into tears. I knew this was my last chance to sort myself out and become the man I wanted to be, the person to make my parents proud, worthy of the McEnroe name.’
    Writing the book has been cathartic, he says. ‘Dale’ is based on O’Neal – the grandfather he describes as ‘an a**hole’, who is now a distant figure.
    ‘I haven’t seen him since I was 13. He’s abusive to Mum and always has been. When I was 13 we had to go to this Paper Moon anniversary screening and he was horrible to her and she spent the night in tears. That’s when I decided I wanted no part in it.’
    When Tatum tried yet another attempt to re-establish a relationship with her father – the pair recently filmed a reality show in which she revealed he hit on her after not recognising her at Farrah Fawcett’s funeral – he didn’t feel he could support her.
    ‘I don’t want to try to pretend he’s a good guy. Some people are just bad,’ he shrugs.
    Several examples of O’Neal’s poor parenting are laid bare in the novel.
    In one scene Dale tells his daughter to take cocaine to lose weight.
    ‘That really happened,’ Kevin sways. ‘He’s a monster.’
    Two years ago O’Neal did seek a reconciliation with his grandson.
    ‘He sent me a letter saying he wanted to connect. And he enclosed a photograph of his face. That says it all. A head shot. I thought about throwing darts at it.’
    In yet another true-to-life section of the book there is a poignant moment when Dorothy meets her grandson (Kevin). ‘I only met my grandmother a handful of times because she died when I was ten,’ Kevin says.
    ‘She was used as a cautionary tale in our family – look what happens when someone drinks and does drugs. But I was young and loved her unconditionally. Certain things in the book, like her chain-smoking while telling me never to smoke, I remember clearly. My book is about a good woman who makes bad choices.’
    While Tatum has read the novel ‘and loves it’ and is constantly tweeting about how proud she is of her son, Kevin’s father is more reserved.
    ‘Dad doesn’t even like to watch sad movies so it was hard for him to read this. He told me he didn’t like the bit in the book where his character takes cocaine the first time he meets his wife. He said, “I didn’t take coke the first time I met your mother.”
    ‘I think he liked the book, though. He said, “Nice work.” I think that was a half nod.’
    While he desperately seeks his father’s approval, he openly admits his affection, too. ‘I love my dad, of course I do, but he’s still the tough guy from Queens. He’s still very disciplined. He plays tennis with guys 25 years younger than him, he’s in great shape.’
    And though he dotes upon his mother, their relationship is more complicated. ‘She’s doing awesome at the moment. She wants to get back to work. I dream about buying her a house one day.
    ‘I love her more than anything. In my novel the character forgives her mother, and I’ve forgiven my mother for everything and it’s changed our relationship entirely.
    ‘Writing this book made me understand that drugs and lifestyle choices make good people do bad things.
    ‘I feel so lucky that I’ve been given a chance to be a better man. I’ve got a novel I’m proud of and I am finally believing in myself. For many years I felt like I was in a tunnel and there was a tiny light at the end of it but I would always turn away from it.
    ‘Now I feel like the light is getting bigger and brighter and I am walking towards it. I never felt like I deserved success before, but now I do.
    ‘Finally I feel like I have earned the right to use the McEnroe name for something positive.’


    Read more: Surviving the nightmare of being a McEnroe: First-ever interview with tennis star's son, whose mother was a heroin addict and grandad was a 'monster' | Daily Mail Online

    I have some famous friends and I have mostly not famous friends.

  2. #2
    Elite Member lindsaywhit's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    3,219

    Default

    "I was in there with drunks, addicts, pimps, and other trash from the streets of New York."

    Just like you, right? Oh yeah, except God only knows how "dysfunctional" their lives have been. .

    That was an asshole comment, BUT - Ryan O'Neal is a monster.* Monster. One of the worst in Hollywood, and Farrah Fawcett wasn't much better. He actively and passive aggressively ruined his children's lives. I've always had a soft spot for Tatum, and I think it's great that she is clean. I hope she stays away from her father. Kevin was not making it up when he said Ryan encouraged drug use - he thrives on his children's drug use as it makes them easier to manipulate and disparage, and much less likely to call him out. Psychopathic, narcissistic, monster.

    It sounds like McEnroe wasn't the easiest father, but did/does his best. I wish Kevin all the best, including perhaps a bit more empathy?

    *Yes, I have inside knowledge, and unfortunately, I can't really share much more. That doesn't usually bug me, but in this case it grates.

  3. #3
    Elite Member louiswinthorpe111's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Middle America
    Posts
    12,630

    Default

    Ok he didn't want to take money for an autobiography of his family, but writes a "fictional" novel based on his family. Hypocrite

  4. #4
    Elite Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    2,959

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by rollo View Post
    [...] as he sips tea in the sun dappled garden of his modest Brooklyn town house. It is a far cry from the luxurious, multi-million-pound mansion blocks of Manhattan’s Upper West side where he was raised.
    For many years he supported himself doing bar work. He now scratches a living on his writer’s salary: ‘I don’t have a trust fund,’ he says. ‘Money is tight.’
    Money can't be all that tight, if he can afford a Brooklyn town house, however modest.
    Last edited by idunno; May 3rd, 2015 at 12:46 PM.
    snoopqueen and cheray like this.

  5. #5
    Hit By Ban Bus!
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Too bad he is trying to milk his dad's side. He would have done better, if her milked his mom's side.

  6. #6
    A*O
    A*O is offline
    Friend of Gossip Rocks! A*O's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Being Paula
    Posts
    30,739

    Default

    I don't see how anyone from his toxic gene pool could hope to be "normal". Rather than writing thinly veiled autobiography as a "novel"/therapy why not change your name, STFU and move to Nebraska.
    nana51, Kathie_Moffett and misrule like this.
    I've never liked lesbianism - it leaves a bad taste in my mouth
    Dame Edna Everage

    Just because you're offended doesn't mean you're right.

  7. #7
    Elite Member gas_chick's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    41,272

    Default

    Maybe the title should be it wasn't easy be Tatum O"Neal's son or even it wasn't easy being the son of both. I feel like John McEnroe tried to do his best by his kids after their mother went off the deep end.
    I am going to come and burn the fucking house down... but you will blow me first."

  8. #8
    Elite Member ManxMouse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Lemuria
    Posts
    7,667

    Default

    So irritating how the Daily Mail automatically "translates" American English into Britspeak, making this American guy sound English ("mum," "stone," etc.).
    lindsaywhit and Cinnamon*Girl like this.
    Santa is an elitist mother fucker -- giving expensive shit to rich kids and nothing to poor kids.

  9. #9
    Elite Member lindsaywhit's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    3,219

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by gas_chick View Post
    Maybe the title should be it wasn't easy be Tatum O"Neal's son or even it wasn't easy being the son of both. I feel like John McEnroe tried to do his best by his kids after their mother went off the deep end.
    Yeah, he did, and iirc he wasn't trying to be vicious to Tatum, just needed to protect his kids from the crazy & lethal. I'd only disagree that Tatum didn't just go off the deep end; she was thrown in and held under by her violent, abusive, daddy dearest.
    idunno likes this.


  10. #10
    Elite Member Kathie_Moffett's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    just another freak in the freak kingdom
    Posts
    6,957

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by idunno View Post
    Money can't be all that tight, if he can afford a Brooklyn town house, however modest.
    Maybe he rents? Still, I'm pretty sure it's one of Dad's investment properties, or similar.

    I wonder if the book's any good. If he can really write well, he might have a decent future. Looking at the pic, he's the only one who seems to resemble McEnroe. Those nasty O'Neal genes are strong. I hope they're only skin-deep.

    But, uh: what is with his pants?!

    Lindsay, most of us here have probably figured out how much of a monster Ryan O'Neal is. What bothers me is that nobody has ever brought charges against him. He should be in prison, imo.
    lindsaywhit and idunno like this.
    Did you know that every time a parent gives in to their kid's whines and buys them candy at the checkout lane, a kitten gets diabetes?-Dlisted
    I dislike groups of people, but I love individuals. Every person you look at, you can see the universe in their eyes, if you're really looking.
    -George Carlin

  11. #11
    Elite Member Just Kill Me's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    sucking on a blow pop and playing with electrodes
    Posts
    15,550

    Default

    Yeah, that O'Neal shit is TOXIC.
    lindsaywhit likes this.
    KILLING ME WON'T BRING BACK YOUR GOD DAMNED HONEY!!!!!!!!!!

    Come on, let's have lots of drinks.

    Fuck you all, I'm going viral.

  12. #12
    Elite Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    2,959

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Kathie_Moffett View Post
    But, uh: what is with his pants?!
    He couldn't afford the last few inches. Money's tight, you know.

  13. #13
    Elite Member InigoMontoya's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Scaling the Cliffs of Insanity
    Posts
    1,989

    Default

    weighed less than six stone
    Whenever I hear Americans use British vernacular and they have never lived over seas, I think, "Pretentious, much?" Maybe I should start saying "Dude, I don't have a Franc to my name today" because I lived in Paris for a couple of months in the 80s.
    lindsaywhit likes this.

  14. #14
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    1,446

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by lindsaywhit View Post
    Yeah, he did, and iirc he wasn't trying to be vicious to Tatum, just needed to protect his kids from the crazy & lethal. I'd only disagree that Tatum didn't just go off the deep end; she was thrown in and held under by her violent, abusive, daddy dearest.


    Tatum's mother also had serious substance abuse issues. She didn't have a decent parent to rescue her and give her even a halfway normal life and neither did her brother Griffin. (Leigh Taylor-Young was smart enough to move away from Hollywood to minimize O'Neal's influence on her son Patrick.) Ryan O'Neal was able to get away with that violent, abusive behavior because he was a charming, good-looking, successful man in Hollywood, where children have always been a disposable commodity. They are used, abused and disposed of as actors and they are also disposed of by fathers who dump their mothers and move on to start new families.

  15. #15
    Elite Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    3,689

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by louiswinthorpe111 View Post
    Ok he didn't want to take money for an autobiography of his family, but writes a "fictional" novel based on his family. Hypocrite
    I was going to say the same thing. This way people can't say it's not true, or try to stop him from writing this book. It is fiction, you know.

    Quote Originally Posted by idunno View Post
    He couldn't afford the last few inches. Money's tight, you know.
    LOL

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. It's not easy being Olivia Newton-John's daughter
    By rollo in forum Latest Gossip
    Replies: 25
    Last Post: November 19th, 2013, 09:20 AM
  2. CDAN 9/15/2012 - Easy Easy
    By Waterslide in forum Blind Items
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: September 15th, 2012, 03:30 PM
  3. Make Sandwiches Easy!!
    By baked_tater in forum Food and Cuisine
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: December 10th, 2010, 10:50 PM
  4. Easy chocolate macaroons
    By pacific breeze in forum Recipes
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: February 2nd, 2008, 01:27 PM
  5. Easy Rider
    By AliceInWonderland in forum Television and Movies
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: December 4th, 2005, 01:59 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •