Where is Michael Phelps’ dad? That’s been the question on a lot of people’s minds the past few days, as his son wins medal after medal at the Rio Olympics, while the rest of his family is there cheering him on. Click here to find out why Fred Phelps is nowhere to be seen.
Michael Phelps, 31, is totally crushing the Rio Games and his fiancée Nicole Johnson, mother Debbie Phelps and son Boomer Phelps are all there to see him shine. After all, why wouldn’t Michael’s whole family want to be there while the 25-time Olympic medalist continues his streak? Well, for the swimmer’s father, the answer isn’t so black and white, as the two have kind of a rocky past.
Michael’s father, Fred Phelps, and his mother divorced in 1993 when Michael was nine; leaving his sisters, Hilary and Whitney to help raise him. Michael also gives credit to Bob Bowman, his swim coach. “For me, not having a father always there was hard,” Michael told Sports Illustrated. “I had Bob and I had Peter [Carlisle], these guys who acted as father figures. But deep down, inside, it was really hard. That was something that was a struggle for me to talk about for a long time, even with friends or my mother.”
Fred said that once Michael’s swim career really began that their relationship hit rough terrain. “I kept trying and trying, but he always had something to do,” Fred said to ESPN.com. Michael says he wanted his dad to be part of his swimming life, but there have always been issues between the two surrounding it; including his dad missing a meet in 2003 where Michael set his first short-course American record. Then, at the gold medalist’s first Olympics in Sydney, the then 15-year-old was upset by the fact that his father invited his new wife, a woman he didn’t know.
Fred isn’t at this year’s Olympics, though his relationship with his son has improved since Michael’s time in rehab following his second DUI arrest in 2014. “Is my family perfect? Far from it. My parents had issues where they thought it was healthy to split. It wasn’t ideal. It wasn’t easy. But what we went through as kids made us as strong as we are. And now my father and I communicate. It’s not fixed. You don’t fix something like that. But it’s better,” Michael told Sports Illustrated.
Michael is also very focused on making sure he doesn’t make the same mistakes with his baby, Boomer. “I’ve learned a lot on the road that I’ve walked that will make me a better father and help me not make some of the same mistakes,” he told ESPN. Aww, we’re glad to hear it Michael!
HollywoodLifers, do you think Fred Phelps should be at the Rio Olympics? Let us know below!