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HOME > Hogan Knows Best

Hulk Hogan: John Graziano comments were to keep Nick's spirits up


By Christopher Rocchio, 06/12/2008 

Terrence "Hulk Hogan" Boella claims a jailhouse recording where he and his son Nick can be heard discussing John Graziano -- who was left in need of lifelong care after last August's car crash -- was simply to keep his son's spirits up while in solitary confinement.

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"I want them to know that I was desperately trying to keep my son from unraveling," said Hogan during a Tuesday night appearance on CNN's Larry King Live.    "Solitary confinement -- most hardened criminal unravel after two or three days. Nick survived in there 28, 29 days... 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.'"

"As I was going through these motions, I was trying to help give Nick some type of relief, because he is consumed with the unknown, solitary confinement, where nobody ever agreed this would be the punishment to unravel this kid mentally. As I was just digging to try to find a way for my son to get through another day or another hour, I was trying to explain to him that it is in god's hand or god's will or it is what people have said for thousands of years."

Hogan admits he was wrong for some of the things he said to Nick about Graziano, including that "god laid some heavy s**t" on the former U.S. Marine, to which Nick replied by calling Graziano a "negative person."

"I said it incorrectly because every time I called or every time he would call me, that as the days went by and we couldn't get him out [of solitary confinement] -- especially when the sheriff, the prosecuting attorney, everybody said we want to move him -- and then there was no movement," explained Hogan.  "We were desperate... 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."

Despite admitting fault with his wording, Hogan seemingly made the same mistake on Larry King Live by continuing to call the crash "god's will."

"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, it is god's will where we're at with this situation," he said.  "I refuse to accept any negativity, any nay sayers. I firmly believe there is a plan. It is god's plan and god's will."

The jailhouse recordings didn't end there, as Nick also asked his father to begin development on a reality show that would show "how I'm getting back on my feet and how I'm recovering after this -- a celebrity out of jail."  Nick also said he wanted to do the show "where I'll make the most money."

"I just wish that someone would play the two hours before, or the hour after, and please put everything into proper context," said Hogan.  "Everything we would talk about were possibilities, trying to keep his spirits up, trying to get him to move forward. John was part of our last reality show. John was on camera with us all the time in Hogan Knows Best. He was in Key West with us. He was at the house. Sometimes we had to cut around the scenes with John in them he was in the show so much."

Hogan said parts of the phone conversations the "irresponsible media sources" didn't release to the public include a variety of things, such as him reading his son "positive reinforcement books" and the Bible.

"Look at the hello, the goodbye, I love you, and all the content in these conversations," he said.  "We can be fair. You would have a whole different thing."

Hogan reiterated that "the whole intent was to keep my son going" while he was in solitary confinement, which he has since been transferred out of and  into a cell he will share with three other juveniles.

"Throughout all these conversations, whether it was reality show or whatever, I was trying to help my son get through this. I was trying to give him some hope," said Hogan, who added "nobody ever expected" for the phone conversations to become public fodder.

"There was a request for a release of the tapes under some sort of Freedom of Information Act request in the State of Florida. For the first time, the sheriff agreed to release these private conversations," said Hogan's lawyer David Houston on Larry King Live.  "I mean we can't bring back what's already been released. But what we've asked the sheriff in what we call declaratory relief is we've asked the judge to weigh in and give us an opinion, because we don't think it's correct and we don't want any more coming out."

Houston added he can't even recall "another case where tapes have been released."

"Really, that's the major problem that we have here," said Houston.  "It is not because we're trying to hide something. What we're dealing with is statements taken out of context that frankly are statements made in desperation."

In addition, Houston said the taped conversation could also impact a civil lawsuit filed by Graziano's lawyers, alleging three counts of negligence on the part of Hulk and one count each on Linda and Nick.

"It certainly could turn people's mind in a different direction," said Houston on the tape's impact. "And I would hope people would be smart enough not to form opinions based on seconds of sound bytes out of 26 hours."

Nick was driving his father's 1998 Toyota Supra last August when he lost control and hit a raised median, spinning the vehicle and causing its rear end to strike a palm tree.

"Nick hit this tree backwards with this Toyota Super," said Hogan.  "It was a situation where it was raining. We don't know exactly what happened. The prosecutor had his accident reconstruction team come out. We had ours come out. And it was a situation with the rain, with the conditions. He lost control of the car and he was drinking.  There was alcohol in his system."

Despite admitting his 17-year-old son had alcohol in his system, Hogan claimed he did not supply Nick with it.

"I bought alcohol and took it out on the boat for the adults. Nick is a minor. Nick does not drink in my presence," he said.  "There's been a lot of reckless reporting that isn't accurate."

Hogan described his son and Graziano as "best friends" and added he "was like an extension of my family unit."

"So in no way ever did Nick ever intend for something hike this to happen. It was an accident," said Hogan.  "I'm torn. I'm torn because it's a 17-year-old child that's with a 23- or 24-year-old mature adult that just came back from Iraq. So I'm trying to rationalize the situation. And knowing John the way I knew John, if there was any situation that was not right or out of control -- knowing John the way I knew him -- I figured John would take control if there was a problem. That's why I thought it was an accident."

Following a more than two month investigation by police, Nick was arrested on charges of reckless driving involving serious bodily injury; using a motor vehicle in commission of a felony; being a driver under 21 operating a vehicle with a breath-alcohol level of 0.02% or higher; and having illegal window tinting.

Nick was sentenced last month to eight months in jail after he pleaded no contest to reckless driving.  He also received five years of probation and surrendered his driving privileges for three years.

"He made a mistake and he's accountable. He stood up in front of the judge and accepted his sentence and was responsible and accountable for the situation. And what most people don't realize is Nick did not leave my home that day ever planning on anyone being hurt or any intention of anything happening," explained Hogan.  "Nick wanted to be accountable. And he said, 'Dad, I want to be responsible for this.' I understand the feeding frenzy, the lynch mob mentality of the small area we're in, with the media jumping all over it."

Nick's mom Linda filed for divorce from Hulk last November, and she has since accused her estranged husband of "legal shenanigans" in a divorce-related court filing.

"My wife has her own separate life. I've got my own separate life. I have nothing to do with my wife's life at all," said Hogan.  "It is totally two separate worlds at this point."

Hogan added that the last year has been a tough one.

"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," said Hogan.  "I just soul searched figuring out what could I have done. It's just hard."

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