Distressed former AFL player Darren Jolly has completely changed his life.
The Block contestant, whose personal struggles have been well documented over the past three years, has just announced the birth of his first child with girlfriend Lucy Porter, a daughter named Olive.
It marked a happy ending for the two-time premiership star, 40, whose life spiraled out of control after divorcing his wife of 15, Deanne Jolly, in 2019.
After their breakup, the exes engaged in a bitter custody battle and Darren even contemplated suicide – but he seems to be finally doing well.
Daily Mail Australia takes a look at how the former Collingwood and Sydney Swans footballer changed his life for the better with the help of his new girlfriend.
Darren Jolly’s happy ending: How the troubled Block star found love and became a father again after his bitter custody battle with ex-wife Deanne left him suicidal. (Pictured with girlfriend Lucy Porter and their daughter Olive last month)
Darren announced the birth of his daughter Olive on Instagram last month, posting a gallery of photos of himself and Lucy hugging their bundle of joy in the hospital.
‘Welcome to the world beautiful Olive Rita Porter Jolly. You are such a special gift and we love you so much!! ❤️,” he captioned the post.
Darren seemed the loving father every inch as he cradled the newborn.
In another image, Lucy held the baby close to her chest just after delivery.
Baby Joy: Darren announced the birth of his daughter Olive on Instagram last month, posting a gallery of photos of himself and Lucy hugging their bundle of joy in the hospital
Overjoyed: ‘Welcome to the world beautiful Olive Rita Porter Jolly. You are such a special gift and we love you so much!! ❤️,” the former AFL star captioned the post
Precious moment: Lucy rocked her baby moments after giving birth
Support after his suicide attempt
Darren’s life fell apart when he divorced ex-wife Deanne in September 2019, ending 15 years of marriage.
He went public with his new girlfriend Lucy in November 2020 when he posted a beloved selfie on Instagram of the couple who were on vacation, which coincided with his birthday.
New Love: Darren went public with new girlfriend Lucy in November 2020 when he posted this beloved selfie to Instagram of the couple on vacation, coinciding with his birthday
Praise: Darren’s mother praised Lucy (left and right) for her ‘joint efforts’ to help after he shared a disturbing Instagram post in October 2020 saying he couldn’t ‘go on any longer’
A month earlier, Darren had sent shockwaves through the AFL community when he shared a disturbing Instagram post saying he couldn’t “go on any longer.”
Several people called Victoria Police to ask them to conduct a welfare check.
After hours of trying to get in touch with him, his manager Paul Connors said the former prime minister of Collingwood had been found safe and sound that evening around 8.30pm – nearly two hours after the post in question.
He thanked everyone for their help in sharing calls to find him.
While football players and Darren’s family gave him massive support, Lucy was also one of the helpers, who was praised by Darren’s mother for her “joint efforts” to help.
In a better frame of mind: The former Sydney Swans and Collingwood player seemed in good spirits when he and Lucy went on holiday in southwest Victoria in November 2020
“First of all, we would like to thank Lucy’s joint efforts,” wrote Jacinta Jolly in an emotional Facebook post.
“As his parents, this was the most terrifying 24 hours we’ve ever endured. “He’s safe and getting the best care he needs right now.”
Bitter Custody Stoush
Darren and Deanne were popular contestants on The Block, appearing twice in 2014 and 2015 and winning the final season.
In a statement to the Herald Sun in 2019, Deanne confirmed the couple’s bitter breakup, saying that Darren was the one who was the instigator.
“This is a very difficult time for me and my girls. We have been taken by surprise and devastated by Darren’s action. But I’m focusing on my two daughters, who are my number one priority,” she said at the time.
Marriage breakdown: Darren divorced his ex-wife Deanne (right) in September 2019, ending 15 years of marriage
Darren claimed on Instagram in October 2020 that he had been out of contact with his two daughters, Scarlett and Lily, since Deanne’s divorce.
“I’m done, the excruciating pain of not seeing my beautiful girls… is too much to handle,” he wrote.
“When I look back at these photos, what little I have left of my heart broke because it showed how much my girls loved me.
‘To my parents, my family, my friends, Lucy, I love you. To my girls, I’m sorry. My love will always be in your heart. Love daddy xx.’
Reality bites: Darren and Deanne were popular contestants on the Channel Nine renovation series The Block, which appeared twice in 2014 and 2015 and won the final season
Things looked good two weeks later when Darren publicly credited Lucy for helping him come out of his depression.
“Camping on the sand with not a soul in sight,” he wrote on Instagram.
“I’ve wanted to do this for so long and I couldn’t have picked a better weekend and better company to do it with.
“There was something spectacular about our environment, because the rugged coastline and the aggressiveness of the surf made where we were and who I shared it with unforgettable.”
Family: Darren claimed in October 2020 that he had been out of contact with his two daughters Scarlett and Lily (pictured in January 2017) since Deanne’s divorce in September 2019
In February 2020, Darren spoke candidly at Collingwood’s annual general meeting about his business troubles and the breakdown of his marriage.
“Three weeks in a mental institution to deal with depression. Leaving my 15-year marriage because I no longer had love and wanted to have a happier life,” he said.
He told his former teammates that his mental health got so bad around that time that he ‘almost did something stupid and ended up’ [his] to live’.
Footy career: Darren made a total of 237 appearances for Melbourne, Sydney and Collingwood, including winning a premiership in 2010. (Pictured while playing for the Swans on June 4, 2005)
“Everything was too much to handle and I lost control. I lost my drive to keep going, I lost my purpose in life, I lost my direction and I lost my path. I thought it was easier to just go,” he confessed.
At the nadir of his struggle, Darren had himself hospitalized, describing it as the ‘best thing’ [he] could have done’.
Mental health struggles: In February 2020, Darren spoke at Collingwood’s annual general meeting about his business troubles and the breakdown of his marriage. He said his mental health got so bad around that time that he ‘almost did something stupid and ended up’ [his] to live’