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AustraliaFooty's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death

14:17  10 september  2019
14:17  10 september  2019 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

Tragic model Annalise Braakensiek - who was found dead in her Sydney apartment aged 46 - leaves her estate to her family and friends after cutting her husband out of her will

Tragic model Annalise Braakensiek - who was found dead in her Sydney apartment aged 46 - leaves her estate to her family and friends after cutting her husband out of her will Model Annalise Braakensiek's will has been revealed and while her friends and family will receive the bulk of her estate her estranged husband has been cut out.

Footy ' s dark places : Extraordinary story behind the million - dollar - a - year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless Won the 2016 Grand Final for the Bulldogs but was already crumbling mentally. In May this year he quit the sport after a long battle with depression and anxiety.

And thats about the time she walked away from me Nobody likes you when youre 23 And you still act like youre in Freshman year What the hell is wrong Whats my age again? And thats about the time she broke up with me No one should take themselves so seriously With many years to fall in line Why

Three years ago, Tom Boyd was the toast of western Melbourne after delivering the Bulldogs their first flag in half a century.

Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Tom Boyd (pictured with fiancee Anna von Moger) was a star footballer earning $1 million a year when he quit on May 16 after mental health struggles At just 21, he dominated the 2016 Grand Final as every bit the superstar his team traded captain Ryan Griffen for and handed a seven-year, $7 million contract.

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But less than three years later on May 16 he gave it all up after years of struggle with mental illness that left him unable to sleep for months and ruined his form.

When the Bulldogs forced their way into the AFL finals two weeks ago by beating Adelaide, Boyd was instead booting five goals for an audience of a few dozen at his local club Norwood - and feeling far better for it.

Boyd was just another in a long line of stars to retire early or admit they were struggling with depression - including Dustin Martin, Dayne Beams, Travis Cloke and Buddy Franklin.

Last year North Melbourne's Majak Daw plunged from a bridge and barely survived, and on Monday St Kilda great Danny Frawley, 56, died in a single-car crash, though the cause is not yet known.

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The end of Boyd's career, at just 23, was helped along by relentless tormenting from fans on social media amid back injuries and poor form.

Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited At just 21 Boyd (second from left) dominated the 2016 Grand Final for the Bulldogs as every bit the superstar his team traded its captain for Unable to reach the heights of his magical 2016 campaign and playing only 23 games in 2017-18, he was labelled the biggest bust in the AFL.

Part of that absence in 2017 was him taking time off to deal with clinical depression, but his disclosure of that diagnosis didn't give his critics pause.

'You played football and made millions you fraudulent depressant,' one football fan wrote in a comment on his Instagram this year.

'Go to india south east asia central america those people on the streets have the right to be depressed. U are a coward and a disgraceful human milking the poor me card and the mental health card.'

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Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Boyd is now playing for suburban Melbourne team Norwood, where he played junior footy (pictured)

Bulldogs president Peter Gordon singled out rancid social media attacks at Boyd's retirement press conference.

'I think that the way players manage the increasingly intrusive and aggressive social media and media is a real issue for the game and I don't think he is the only young man who's really suffered at the hands of it,' he said.

'He's made a dignified decision but I think we're all confronted with what this industry and what this media and the social media scene can do to young people.'

The next day, coach Luke Beveridge hit out at those who seemed determined to drag Boyd down and admitted it played a role in his retirement.

'That just shows a sheer lack of conscience and drive to be nasty and that will never be forgiven by anyone at our football club,' he said.

Boyd is still subjected to low blows from abusive opposition fans jeering from the sidelines of muddy suburban ovals.

'How'd ya drop that? Did ya walk away from it?' an opposing fan taunted when Boyd dropped a mark in a recent match against Blackburn attended by The Australian.

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Danny Frawley's widow Anita says his mental health deteriorated in the lead up to his death and reveals the tragic turning point for AFL star The wife of AFL star Danny Frawley has released an emotional statement revealing her husband's mental health had 'deteriorated' in the weeks before his suicide.

You walk in with it and instead of just flushing it down the toilet, you feed it into slots on machines that are built just for you to bring your money in and If you can't control yourself and set a hard limit then you shouldn't be gambling with that much money in the first place . But you ask what is a hard limit?

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'He pulled the mental health card. See, they're not allowed to test 'em for drugs if they pull the mental health card.'

Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Boyd was just another in a long line of stars to retire early or admit they were struggling with depression - last year North Melbourne's Majak Daw plunged from a bridge and barely survived

The belligerent fan kept up his tirade through the match, telling Boyd's opponent: 'Yer absolutely smashing him, Duffy — I'd give you a million dollars if I could.'

'The $6 million man! I don't think he's had a kick today.'

Boyd said his struggles began earlier than the 2016 final that could have built his legend - almost as soon as he was drafted.

The two-metre-tall teenager was drafted first overall at the 2013 draft, 10 days after he finished high school, by Greater Western Sydney as a certain future star.

He played nine games as a rookie and though he felt the beginnings of depression and anxiety he put it down to just being homesick.

Boyd asked for a trade back to Melbourne and eventually GWS relented and shipped him to the Bulldogs in exchange for 2014 draft pick number six and disgruntled captain Ryan Griffen.

However, moving home didn't help and his mental health issues persisted at his new club even as it challenged for a premiership.

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'It was hard to deal with because I didn't understand why the homesickness hadn't been cured by moving back to Melbourne,' he said in an AFL Players' Association video last month.

'Throughout 2016, clearly we had an amazing year and managed to win the flag which was an incredible experience but from my point of view it probably covered up a lot of the cracks.'

Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Boyd gave it all up after years of struggle with mental illness that left him unable to sleep for months and ruined his form Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The two-metre-tall teenager was drafted first overall at the 2013 draft, 10 days after he finished high school, by Greater Western Sydney as a certain future star

He appeared fine on the surface but spent about six weeks with such severe insomnia he go almost no sleep at all.

'I couldn't physically operate anymore, on that lack of sleep I was getting injured, I couldn't train, I couldn't concentrate,' he said.

'I remember looking at my program in the gym, take three steps and I'd forgotten it all.'

Boyd started seeing a psychologist but by 2017 his issues were so bad he had to take months of the season off to address them.

This time off and treatment gave him coping skills to deal with his illness, but by a season later his enjoyment of the game and will to keep playing were gone.

'My decision to retire now is a reflection of issues I've had over the past five years, both with physical injury and with mental health,' he said in his retirement address.

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'They have now accumulated to a point where I just don't have the desire to play or the enjoyment of the game I used to have.'

Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Boyd recovering from shoulder surgery - one of the many injuries that helped end his career

Away from the spotlight, relentless pressure to perform, and guilt over his massive salary, he is far more at peace with the world.

'I'm super comfortable. I've had some pretty positive changes since I finished up. I'm back at university (studying business), I'm playing local footy and I got engaged so all things are going well,' he said.

Boyd and his longtime girlfriend Anna von Moger got engaged on June 7.

At his first match for Norwood in June he opened up on how much he was enjoying getting back to his local footy roots playing for his former junior team.

Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Boyd asked for a trade back to Melbourne and eventually GWS relented and shipped him to the Bulldogs in exchange for 2014 draft pick number six and disgruntled captain Ryan Griffen 'I just felt like I'd given up the desire to want to play at the highest level,' he told the local Knox Leader.

'For a big part, the rigours of AFL, mainly through the week and the ability to just get out there playing footy, is not the same as it used to be for me.

Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Boyd and his longtime girlfriend Anna von Moger got engaged on June 7 'To get back to the purest form of footy at the Eastern level, the local level, is really important and I've always enjoyed it.'

His team ended up narrowly missing the Eastern Football League finals on percentage.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from depression, call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyondblue on 1300 22 4636, or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800

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Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death
Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death
Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death
Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death
Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death
Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death
Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death
Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death
Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death
Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death
Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death
Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death
Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death
Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death
Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death
Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death
Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death
Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death
Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death
Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death
Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death
Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death
Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death
Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death
Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death
Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death
Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death
Footy's dark places: Extraordinary story behind the million-dollar-a-year AFL superstar who walked away from it all after relentless abuse triggered crippling depression - as the game reels from Danny Frawley's tragic death

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