NHL legend Wayne Gretzky defended future son-in-law Dustin Johnson during a Wednesday appearance on a Canadian radio station. Pro golfer Johnson, who is engaged to Paulina Gretzky, is currently taking a voluntary leave of absence from the PGA Tour in order to deal with personal issues.
“Obviously life isn’t perfect and [Johnson] went through a tough time, and, as he said to me, ‘It’s going to make me a better person, and through that it’s going to make me a better athlete and better golfer,’" Wayne Gretzky told Sportsnet 590 The Fan, according to the Winnipeg Sun. “In life, unfortunately, sometimes we forget that even athletes are human and there’s bumps in the road, and most importantly he’s a wonderful person with a good heart and we care about him.”
“He’s our future son-in-law and we love him dearly,” he added. “It’s been a tough time…When you go through tough times as a family, that’s when you have to stick together the most.”
Gretzky’s display of support came just one month after a report that he had threatened to cancel Johnson’s wedding with his daughter if the golfer didn’t change his ways. Sources told Fox411 that Gretzky had long been disappointed in Johnson’s behavior off the course, but sought to counsel him.
Johnson announced on July 31 that he would take a leave of absence from the PGA Tour. “I will use this time to seek professional help for personal challenges I have faced,” he said in a statement. “By committing the time and resources necessary to improve my mental health, physical well-being and emotional foundation, I am confident that I will be better equipped to fulfill my potential and become a consistent champion.”
A subsequent Golf.com report alleged that the PGA Tour had actually suspended Johnson for six months after he tested positive for cocaine during a drug test. In addition, the report claimed that Johnson also failed two previous drug tests and that he engaged in a “sexual indiscretion” with the wife of at least one other PGA Tour pro.
An Internet rumor suggested that Johnson had an affair with Alli MacKenzie – the former wife of professional golfer Will MacKenzie – but she quickly denied the allegations. Meanwhile, the PGA Tour released a statement in which it denied that Johnson was suspended.