TALLADEGA Nights actor Houston Tumlin “suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder” from his time in the army before he tragically committed suicide, as his father described his late son as a “great man.”
Houston, 28, died by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head on Tuesday afternoon at his Pelham, Alabama home.
In an exclusive interview with The Sun, Houston’s father, Craig, who described his son as “outgoing” and “loved” by all, revealed he struggled with depression and PTSD following seven years in the army.
He told The Sun: “He loved his country and his family. He served in the Army for seven years. He had PTSD and depression.
“When he was in Korea, he had depression. He had hurt his leg and chest. They offered him out or to stay in Korea for two more years, but he missed family. When he got home, he couldn’t adjust and he wanted to be in the service again. It’s hard to get back in.
“He left the military in December 2019, but he never really left it, his heart was always there. When he got out it took his identity away. He felt like he was a disappointment. He felt like a failure for being out of the service. He just could not see the value in himself.”
Craig added: “He was a great boy and son.”
The dad said his son was an “all-American boy” who enjoyed playing football in high school.
He also wonders if the around eight concussions he suffered from the sport caused him to struggle later in life.
Craig said: “He was small, but he was very aggressive like I taught him to be! He would hit people hard and do damage. He had migraines all the time.”
The father said the family “begged” their son to seek therapy.
He continued: “He never would do it. He would talk with his buddies. We tried so hard. His mother prayed every night.
“He drank and it wasn’t good for him, it wasn’t a good mix. I thought he would hit rock bottom and then come out of it. I never thought he would commit suicide.”
Craig explained that as a child, his son modeled and was chosen for Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby because of his southern accent and resemblance to actor Will Ferrell.
He said: “He was a gorgeous little boy. He auditioned for the movie privately. It fell in his lap with the southern accent.
“He tried to act a little after, but with the deep southern accent it would be a specialized part. But he wanted his prom, he wanted to play football, he was an all-American boy. He wasn’t a child actor, he was an average guy. ”
Craig remembers his son as the “nicest” man.
He said: “He treated women with respect. He opened doors for every lady in town. He would buy women roses. There will never be another gentleman like him.
“There has never been a more protective guy either. If someone picked on someone, the little guy would whip anyone’s butt to help them.
“He loved his mama. His baby sister. He loved her more than anyone on this planet. He was very outgoing and he loved karaoke. He was also a hell of an athlete.
“He could not have been a better son. My heart is just dying. There is hole. He couldn’t see the beauty in himself that everyone else saw.”
Craig said the funeral, which will take place next week, is expected to be “packed.”
He explained: “I can’t tell you how many people are coming to the funeral and it has nothing to do with the movie. The whole town will be there. He has friends flying in from Korea for the funeral because they loved him.”
Social media has been flooded with tributes for Houston.
Craig captioned a photo of him with Houston as a toddler on Facebook: “U will always be this guy for me hoot dog! I love u and will miss u every day for the rest of my life!”
His mother Michelle wrote on Facebook: “Our beautiful boy is now the most gorgeous angel in Heaven! And we will never be the same.”
His girlfriend Charity Robertson wrote: “I’ve never experienced a hurt like this before. I feel numb, I feel defeated, I feel lost. I feel empty. My heart is absolutely shattered.
“My sweet, sweet baby.. Our time together was one of the best experiences of my life. I’ll miss your big heart, caring spirit, infectious laughter, & oh man could the list go on.”
She continued: “I love your smart mouth, your ‘i’m always right’ attitude, your hugs, your kisses, your touch.. Just YOU!
“I just still feel like this is a really bad dream that I can’t wake up from.”
Charity ended: “One thing is for sure though, I have the absolute best guardian angel a girl could ever wish for cause everybody knows you don’t play about me.
”I love you so much Houston Lee & thank you for loving me so passionately and unapologetically for the time we had each other.”
As of yet, no suicide note has been found.
The Shelby County Coroner confirmed to The Sun that an autopsy and toxicology are currently underway.
Houston was born in Pell City, Alabama on December 27, 1992.
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At the age of 14, he starred in the popular NASCAR comedy Talladega Nights.
He played Will Ferrell’s foul-mouthed son Walker and was a scene-stealer in the movie.
Houston graduated from high school in 2011 and went on to serve in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell.