The son of former pro golfer David Feherty, Shey Feherty, died Saturday July 29th of an overdose. He had turned 29 that day.
“My first born son is gone from me, dying from an overdose on his 29th birthday,” David Feherty wrote on Twitter Tuesday. “Bless his sweet heart, I will fight on.”
“His beautiful blue eyes could captivate a room, but they could not stare down the enemy that lurked in the shadows and prevent it from reaching out to grab him in his darkest time,” the obituary read. “Shey, fought hard to win his battles with drug addiction and mental illness, but in the end the monsters won. The worry we felt watching Shey’s struggle with his addiction has now been replaced by a feeling of loss so deep, knowing we will never see his smiling face or beautiful eyes again. But through our heartbreak we share Shey’s story in the hope that it will touch another person who may battle with addiction either for themselves or for a loved one.”
Shey was the eldest of Feherty’s two sons with his first wife, Caroline DeWitt. He has three children with his second wife, Anita.
Feherty, who played on the PGA and European tours from 1976 to 1997 and now works as an analyst for NBC Sports, has been open about his own struggles with substance abuse, noting in 2014 that his family has a history of alcoholism and undiagnosed mental illness. In a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone, Feherty said that during his pro years he regularly consumed weed, cocaine, Vicodin and whiskey. He has since gotten sober and been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, though continues to struggle with insomnia and depression.
Feherty credited his wife with helping him get sober, though he also recalled a pivotal moment while doing a TV segment with fellow golfers Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus. “At one point, Tom just put his hand over the camera and said, ‘You’re not well, are you?’ and I said, ‘No, I’m not.’ I asked him how he knew, and he said, ‘I can see it in your eyes.’ And I said, ‘What do you see?’ and he said, ‘My reflection.’
“And I didn’t know that Tom had a problem at that point. Very few people did. He said, ‘You need to come with me when we’re done here.’ And I’m trying to back out; we’re on Prince Edward Island, and Tom [lives in] Kansas City, so I said, ‘How am I going to get to Kansas City?’ And I hear this voice behind me say, ‘I have a G5!’ So I’m getting heckled by Jack Nicklaus, who sent me there with his G5, and I went with Tom and he looked after me for 2 or 3 days and I’ve been sober ever since.”
~ Thomas Jefferson