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.
Mr and Ms McKinnon, who have three young girls, released similar statements on Instagram later that evening, but remained tight-lipped about their separation in the following days.
On Thursday morning, the 30-year-old’s father Scott McKinnon told Daily Mail Australia the break-up was ‘very sad’.
Scott McKinnon spent quality time with his son Alex (pictured together) on Tuesday afternoon
Scott and Alex McKinnon took Harriet, three, to a park in Newcastle on Tuesday afternoon (pictured)
Former footy star Alex McKinnon and his wife Teigan (pictured with daughter Harriet) are expecting twins in 2021
‘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.
The couple (pictured at their twins’ birthday on Saturday) issued similar post break-up statements, with one major difference
Pictured: Teigan McKinnon with her eldest daughter, Harriet. She and Alex McKinnon broke up in January, but the split was announced on Sunday
Teigan McKinnon was spotted for the first time since the break up announcement on Monday
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.
Teigan (pictured) and Alex McKinnon have three children together – Harriet, three, and twins Audrey and Violet, one
Ms McKinnon posted a photo of herself at a wedding in March (pictured) – without her husband
Mr McKinnon made a statement (pictured) similar to one his ex-wife wrote announcing their split
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.
The Newcastle Knights forward had his neck fractured in a three-man tackle during a rugby league match on March 24
McKinnon, 23, suffered two fractured vertebrae in a tackle while playing The Melbourne Storm in March, 2014 (pictured in hospital)
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.
Tears flowed as the 25-year-old rose to his feet and exchanged vows (pictured)
The couple announced via social media in March 2018 that they were expecting their first child
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.
Mr McKinnon (pictured with wife Teigan and daughter Harriet) always wanted a big family because he was an only child
Alex and Teigan McKinnon (pictured together) were together for 12 years and married for five
‘We started crying every time we caught each other’s eye. It was beautiful.
Shortly after daughter Harriet was born in 2018, Mr McKinnon revealed he had ‘made peace’ with the effects of the injury that changed his life forever.
‘I used to always think I would want to go back and I would want my old life back, but I have moved on. I really have. I never thought I would be able to say that but life just so different now.
‘I understand in each experience you can learn something from it and I am very lucky and happy with the life that I have right now… I really have [found peace]. I feel really comfortable in myself and I know me.’
The couple announced they were expecting twins in November 2020 and said they were left speechless when their GP broke the news.
‘We’re extremely grateful – with a million different emotions,’ Mr McKinnon said.
Teigan McKinnon is pictured with her twins Audrey Jill and Violet John who she shares with her now ex-partner Alex
‘I’m still trying to get my head around all that stuff like two baby seats, two cots, two high chairs… it’s amazing how the rollercoaster of life works.
‘I’m an only child and so we always wanted a big family. I guess we’ve got our wish, that’s for sure.’
When the twins were born, Ms McKinnon said it felt ‘so natural’ to welcome both of the girls into the world.
‘Alex took Violet in his arms and Audrey was placed on my chest,’ she said of the moment.
‘In that moment, as the twins cried for each other, it was extremely overwhelming.’
Mr McKinnon Jnr is studying at university and working for Fox Sports as a sideline reporter and analyst, while his estranged wife works as a primary school teacher.
Alex and Teigan McKinnon: From high school sweethearts to co-parenting three little girls
2010: The pair met through mutual friends at a pub in 2010. Alex McKinnon said it was ‘love at first sight’, but she said they were friends for a year before they started dating.
‘I was there for a friend’s birthday dinner and we hit it off straight away, feeling very comfortable around each other. We were friends for about a year before we started dating in 2011,’ Ms McKinnon previously told Body and Soul.
The aspiring football player lived in Wollongong but made the five-hour trip to Denman, in the NSW Hunter Valley, every weekend to see his girlfriend – who was still in high school.
2011: The lovesick teens officially start dating.
2014: Mr McKinnon started playing for the Newcastle Knights in 2014, at the age of 22. He played 49 games before a dangerous tackle during a round-three match against Melbourne Storm in March that year changed his life forever.
He fractured his C4 and C5 vertebrae and became a quadriplegic.
Three weeks after the accident, he proposed to Ms McKinnon – who pledged to stand by him throughout his recovery. Their love story captivated Australia.
2015: Mr McKinnon publicly thanked his then-fiancée for her ongoing support.
‘Happy Valentine’s Day babe,’ he wrote on Instagram.
The last year has challenged us a lot more then we would of every imagined, yet we’ve become so much stronger then ever before. I can honestly say I don’t know where I would be without you, I love you a fair bit @teiganpower.’
2017: The happy couple got married in an intimate ceremony in the NSW Hunter Valley in October 2017.
Mr McKinnon had promised his bride that he would rise from his wheelchair when he popped the question, and he did just that at their wedding.
The day before the ceremony, Ms McKinnon wrote to her followers on Instagram, ‘Tomorrow is the day we say ‘I do’ to the rest of our lives.’
2018: Ms McKinnon gave birth to their first daughter, Harriet Anne.
2020: They announced that Ms McKinnon was pregnant with twins in November.
2021: Twin girls Violet and Audrey were born in April.
2022: The couple quietly broke up in January.
Mr McKinnon shared a post of him and Ms McKinnon celebrating their twins’ first birthday on April 23.
The following day, their separation was made public in the Sydney morning Herald.
They vowed to continue supporting each other and co-parenting their three daughters.