The 53-year-old professional golfer shared on social media Monday that he is recovering from a gambling addiction, along with how he and his family have dealt with it.
Mickelson explained his story in a series of slides on Instagram, saying in part that while many people will “enjoy this football season” in terms of creating fantasy leagues, he "won’t be betting this year because I crossed the line from moderation into addiction which isn’t fun at all.”
“The money wasn’t ever the issue since our financial security has never been threatened, but I was so distracted I wasn’t able to be present with the ones I love and caused a lot of harm," he continued.
The two-time PGA Championship winner then described how this “lack of presence” has been “so hurtful” for his family, saying he’s been "often" told throughout his addiction, “You’re here, but you’re not with us.”
“It affected those I care about in ways I wasn’t aware or could fully understand,” Mickelson said. “It’s like a hurricane is going on outside and I’m isolated in a shelter oblivious to what was happening.”
“When I came out there was so much damage to clean up that I just wanted to back inside and not deal with it,” he added.
The father of three then issued a warning to others, saying that he hoped those who potentially cross the line of moderation into addiction would not “confuse your enablers as friends like I did,” and that hopefully those people wouldn’t have to deal with “those difficult moments publicly so others can profit off you,” like he had.
Though he noted that he had a bright light in all this who was “willing to help” him “through being [his] worst self”: his wife of 26 years, Amy.
“She has loved me and supported me through my darkest and most difficult times,” Mickelson wrote. “I couldn’t have gotten through this without her.”
“I’m so grateful for her strength in helping us get through the many challenges I’ve created for us,” the golfer continued. “Because of her love, support and commitment, I’m back on track to being the person I want to be.”
Mickelson wrote that “after many years of receiving professional help" and abstaining from gambling, he's "now able to sit still” and “be present in the moment” with his family, and “live each day with an inner calm and peace.” And though he said he still has things to work on with his loved ones, he’s “doing it slowly and as best I can.”
“The football season and beyond, enjoy yourself with moderation so it doesn’t detract from your ability to be present. In my experience, the moments with the ones you love will be far more remembered than any bet you win or fantasy league triumph,” he concluded his post.
Mickelson first opened up about his gambling addiction in an interview with Sports Illustrated last year, saying that the practice "got to a point of being reckless and embarrassing."
“I had to address it. And I’ve been addressing it for a number of years. And for hundreds of hours of therapy. I feel good where I’m at there," he added. "My family and I are and have been financially secure for some time.”
The athlete went on to say that "gambling has been part of my life ever since I can remember," but it "became reckless" about 10 years ago.
"It’s embarrassing. I don’t like that people know," Mickelson admitted. "The fact is I’ve been dealing with it for some time. Amy has been very supportive of it and with me and the process. We’re at place after many years where I feel comfortable with where that is. It isn’t a threat to me or my financial security. It was just a number of poor decisions.’’
If you or someone you know is struggling with a gambling problem, please contact the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network at 1-800-522-4700 or go to gamtalk.org.