Predators' Austin Watson opened up in Instagram post about depression, domestic violence arrest

Yahoo Sports Contributor
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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nhl/teams/nashville/" data-ylk="slk:Nashville Predators">Nashville Predators</a> left wing <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nhl/players/4978/" data-ylk="slk:Austin Watson">Austin Watson</a> opened up on Instagram on Friday about his arrest and his struggles with alcoholism and mental illness. (AP/Paul Sancya)
Nashville Predators left wing Austin Watson opened up on Instagram on Friday about his arrest and his struggles with alcoholism and mental illness. (AP/Paul Sancya)

Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson made a lengthy Instagram post on Friday where he revealed his struggles with alcoholism, depression and anxiety — something he’s dealt with since he was 18.

Watson, who will turn 27 on Sunday, was suspended 18 games and the entirety of the preseason for “unacceptable off-ice conduct” following the domestic violence incident on June 16, 2018 with his girlfriend. He pleaded no contest to the domestic assault charge a week later and was sentenced to three months’ probation, a 26-week batterer’s intervention course and an impatient treatment program.

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In his post on Friday, Watson said he had been sober for nearly two years until May of last year, when he began drinking again. His girlfriend, Jennifer, is also an alcoholic and relapsed around the same time.

Their relationship, he said, has become “tense” leading up to his arrest, but said he didn’t physically harm her during the incident.

“During the month leading up to the incident, we had both relapsed, our relationship had become tense, and we made a series of poor decisions that lead us to that day,” he wrote. “On June 16th, we engaged in a heated, nonphysical argument. I did not cause marks on her chest or blood on her leg. I did handle matters that day poorly and did not uphold the standards of an employee of the Nashville Predators or National Hockey League.

“I take full responsibility for my involvement in the argument and have learned from the situation and taken the necessary steps to ensure that nothing of this nature happens again.”

View this post on Instagram

As my 26th year comes to an end in a couple days, I’ve found myself reflecting lately. In doing so, I’ve felt a deep urge to be a bit more open. After lots of prayer and contemplation, I’ve found that there’s one thing I need to share that’s been a part of my life and anyone else’s life that’s been close with me for quite some time. With Jennifer’s permission to use the word “we” in certain places, the picture above is a note that’s been sitting in my phone for what seems like ages. It’s a condensed version of some words I’d had gone back and forth with releasing as a statement as I returned to the ice. While I won’t go into any more of my family’s and my personal life, because it still isn’t the right time for us and to not create another individual distraction in the midst of our team’s season, I found it only fair to share briefly of my story. Mental Illness runs rampant in the world today. In my experience it can often feel lonely, consuming, and at times unbearable. Please know that you are not alone. There are so many of us who seem to have the picture perfect life, no problems in the world. Yet I deal and I battle just as much as and no more than the next person. I’ve been blessed with many obstacles, traumas and hard times to overcome. Doing the next right thing doesn’t always seem easy, but it’s worth it. Perspective is everything to me, and when I look at the beautiful and downright amazing things in my life that I feel unworthy of, I realize how fortunate I am to be me. If you’re feeling alone today, you’re not. If you feel like no ones cares, I do. If there doesn’t seem to be any chance of it getting better, believe me it will. I hope I’ve helped someone today the way others who’ve shared have helped me. P.S. to the esteemed members of the local and national media, I still won’t touch on either matter past what I’ve said above at this time. Thank you for your courtesy, respect and understanding. On a lighter note I’ve also accompanied this post with Jennifer and I’s beautiful #adidas model. She puts a smile on my face every time 😊. #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness #mentalillness #hope #grateful #thisisus #giveback #longwinded 🤦‍♂️

A post shared by Austin Watson (@watson_austin92) on Jan 11, 2019 at 8:14am PST


Watson is currently in his fourth full season with the Predators, and has scored six goals and had two assists for them so far this season.

Now, Watson said, both he and Jennifer are in a good place.

“We are healthy, happy and committed to our own individual sobriety as well as continuing to strengthen our relationship,” Watson wrote. “We have learned from our mistakes and are excited to move forward in our relationship. We wish only to raise our daughter Olivia in the most healthy and loving atmosphere we can provide.”

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