David Feherty, the former Northern Ireland golf star turned successful US commentator, has been left devastated after his eldest son died from a drugs overdose on his birthday.
Bangor-born Mr Feherty (58) confirmed the heartbreaking news about his son Shey on Twitter last night.
“My first born son is gone from me, dying from an overdose on his 29th birthday. Bless his sweet heart, I will fight on,” he said.
It’s believed Shey Feherty died in Dallas, Texas on Saturday, with his funeral to be held there on Tuesday.
His father, who played for Europe in the Ryder Cup before beginning his US career as a TV commentator for CBS and later NBC, has previously spoken of his own past struggles with drugs and alcohol.
It’s understood Shey had his own consulting company and had been living in Texas at the time of his death.
He was the first of two sons — his younger brother Rory is 26 — from his father’s first marriage to South African beauty queen Caroline DeWit.
David Feherty later had a daughter Erin (18) with his second wife, interior designer Anita Schneider, who also has two sons of her own.
The popular commentator’s father Billy died, aged 91, in November last year following a long battle with Alzheimer’s. A family tribute posted online described Shey Feherty as “beautiful and charismatic”.
“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 notice 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“The worry we felt watching Shey’s struggle with his addiction has now been replaced by a feeling of loss so deep, knowing we will never see his smiling face or beautiful eyes again.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. Please know there is no shame in asking for help. Our Shey is gone from us now, but you can help us keep his light shining and focused if you reach out to another who suffers.”
Among the many paying tribute to the family was Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC Broadcasting and Sports, and Mike McCarley, president of golf at NBC Sports Group.
A joint statement read: “Our deepest condolences go out to David Feherty and his family on the passing of his oldest son, Shey.”
“Family means everything to David and his Golf Channel, NBC Sports and extended television family send their love and support at this difficult time.”
The film actor Don Cheadle also tweeted: “Oh, David. Gutted. No words. Thinking of you and love you, man.”
Discussing his own addictions last year, David Feherty, who has been sober since 2005, credited his wife Anita for helping him quit alcohol. In addition to his commentary career, he is well known in the US for his fundraising for injured soldiers.