During an appearance Tuesday night on CNN's "Larry King Live," an emotional Hulk Hogan apologized for comments he made during telephone conversations with his son Nick Hogan (real name: Nick Bollea), who is currently being held at the Pinellas County Jail in Largo, Florida. Nick is serving an eight-month sentence for his role in an August car crash that left his friend, former U.S. Marine John Graziano, brain-dead and in a coma.
Last month, Nick Hogan pleaded guilty to felony reckless driving involving serious bodily injury; up until last week, he was being held in solitary confinement, but was transferred into a cell with three other inmates and a television.
Last week, audio tapes of Hogan's phone calls to his imprisoned son surfaced online, and during one conversation, the elder Hogan can be heard suggesting to Nick that Graziano's condition was "God's will." On "Larry King," Hogan apologized for the remark, and told King that his comments were intended to alleviate some of the stress his son was experiencing during the weeks he'd spent in solitary.
"It was like the whole world [was] crashing down on my son," Hogan explained, at times fighting back tears. "Solitary confinement — most hardened criminals unravel after two or three days. Nick survived in there 28, 29 days. During that period of time, as I'm sitting there, 28 or 29 days, hardly any sleep, I did everything I could, from laugh to cry with my son, to try to tell jokes, to try to be serious, to try to keep him present and aware and walking in the spirit of God and say, be grateful if we get a break. Be grateful if somebody hits us with another slam-dunk, be grateful that we know what is in front of us.
"I was trying to help give Nick some type of relief because he is consumed with the unknown," Hogan continued. "As I was just digging to try to find a way for my son to get through another day or another hour, I was just trying to explain to him that it's
'in God's hands' or 'it's God's will.' That's what people have said for thousands of years. Did I say things wrong? Yes. I am sorry. I said it incorrectly because my son, every time I called or every time he would call me, [and] as the days went by and we couldn't get him out, especially when the sheriff, the prosecuting attorney, everybody said we want to move him and then there was no movement.
"We were desperate," the wrestler added. "I didn't, even though they were trying to protect him physically because he's a juvenile in an adult prison, his mental state was unraveling. And I just had no way to help him. I was desperate. And I never meant to hurt John or the Graziano family."
Hogan also told King that, while he knew the call was being recorded, he's disappointed that the tapes were released to the media.
"This was the only thing Nick had left," he said. "This is the privacy everybody had in prison ... and to have that taken away? I was more worried than ever about his mental state."
Toward the end of the interview, Hogan said he believes the public understood his family's plight.
"At the end of the day, the support and the people — the people that are outside of this building — they're with us on this thing. So it's going to be OK. It's going to be OK," he said. "My son is a good child, and like I said, this is in God's hands. Things happen for a reason. This is to make Nick a better person. In my belief, this is to make John a better person. It is like I said before, you know, it is God's will where we're at with this situation. I refuse to accept any negativity, any naysayers. I firmly believe there is a plan. It is God's plan and God's will. We walk in the spirit of Christ and we believe for a reason that things happen. I apologize for it. I never meant to hurt anyone."
At one point, King asked Hogan if he felt in any way personally responsible for what happened to his son and Graziano, the wrestler said he did.
"It is a constant soul-searching mission," he said. "We're to a point with my life and everything that I have — I was almost in a situation where I'm not trying to be a control freak but, knowing what I had at hand with the family, being married 23 years, for everything just to disappear on me, for my wife to file for divorce and the marriage to be broken long before that, and then the accident happened and the civil case, and my son getting put in jail; I just soul-searched, figuring out what could I have done. It's just hard."