Jason Akermanis reveals personal details about his secret second family and private heartbreak.
Jason Akermanis, a legend of the Australian Football League, has opened up about his hidden second family and his backflip to meet his father.
Jason Akermanis’ private life has always been as tumultuous as his infamously bumpy football career.
The 44-year-old has largely vanished from the football world in recent years — but his daughter Charlotte’s burgeoning career, 16, is reintroducing him to the sport he once dominated.
On Saturday, Akermanis explored how he struggles to cope with the life-altering news he got at the age of 13 — that his father was not who he believed him to be.
Akermanis acknowledges that his childhood trauma continued to influence his life and actions throughout his turbulent career as an outcast at the Brisbane Lions and sacked by the Western Bulldogs.
Akermanis first addressed his fractured family in 2010 — the same year he was exiled from the AFL and never returned.
He explained this week how he came to support his second family after initially refusing to accept his other blood relatives.
All of Akermanis’ peaks and lows can be traced back to his childhood in Mildura, country Victoria, with mother Shona Carswell and brother Rory.
Akermanis was led to believe that his father, John Akermanis of Canada, left the family when he was two years old.
He had been misled.
He previously discussed how he was told at the age of 13 — following the family’s relocation to Brisbane — that his real father was a mechanic based in Mildura — a man with whom his mother had an affair.
He was flattened by the stunning discovery.
He admits to having suffered from depression and considered suicide when he was 14 years old, despite his undeniable talent on the football field.
At the time, Akermanis made a deliberate decision to move on with his life, oblivious to the fact that his true father was a man named Denis Dezdjek.
Although he was able to continue living his life, the revelation embedded itself in him like a thorn.
“Mum told me she worked in the office at a Mildura car dealership where Denis worked as a mechanic and they had an affair, which culminated in me and Rory,” Akermanis told The Daily Mail on Saturday.
“John Akermanis had been away on business for a while, and upon his return, Mum told him that she was expecting Rory. He performed some calculations and exclaimed, “Wait a minute, that can’t be correct.” I was not there.
It was already more than any teenager could bear, but the family was rocked again during Akermanis’ senior year of high school when his mother was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. She died less than two years later, at the age of 41.
According to the article, Akermanis assumed legal guardianship of his younger brother at the age of 19.
“It was a difficult time,” Akermanis explained.
His private life spilled over onto the football field.
He famously had a falling out with legendary coach Leigh Matthews after openly criticizing the Hall of Famer in his own newspaper column.
Though Akermanis was no longer one of the game’s best players as he had been during Brisbane’s famous run of three consecutive premiership victories from 2001 to 2003, he remained one of the Lions’ biggest stars when he was released by the club at the end of the 2006 season, reportedly no longer desired by his coaches or teammates.
Four years later, Akermanis was shot by the Western Bulldogs six weeks before the start of the 2010 finals season.
His spiraling career with the Lions occurred at the same point in his life when Akermanis now claims he made a deliberate decision to locate his father — as well as his half-brother Nigel and half-sisters Elissa and Shelley.
Akermanis reconnected with his family and spent 15 years with his father Denis until he died last year at the age of 70.
Akermanis has made peace with his wife Megan and daughters Charlotte, Sienna, 13, and Zoe, 3, inside their Brisbane home.
Akermanis spoke glowingly of Charlotte earlier this week following her selection by the Lions’ Academy as a potential AFLW player — worthy of being the club’s first-ever father-daughter draft selection in years to come.