Mark Selby was abandoned by mum aged 8 and lost dad to cancer before epic career

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Mark Selby will go down as one of the greatest snooker players to ever pick up a cue when he eventually calls it a day – and his career made all the more incredible by the heartbreaking tale of his upbringing. His father, David, passed away in 1999 a month after being diagnosed with cancer, while his mother Shirley walked out on him when he was just eight years old.

Selby is a four-time world snooker champion and won 22 ranking titles, only seven players in history have more, while last year was awarded an MBE for services to snooker and charity. However, only took up the game after being abandoned by his mother at the age of eight, having overcome some significant hardships before making his name on the tour.

Selby has since opened up on the traumatic experiences of his childhood, having previously admitted that he contemplated suicide after his father’s death and publicly battled mental health issues throughout his glittering career.

“Dad passed away of cancer when I was 16, and I don’t get on with my mum so I haven’t got much family here,” Selby explained in 2007. “I’ve got my brother, and then lots of close friends who give me great support.

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“My mum left me when I was eight and I just don’t have any contact with her. My brother sees her, but I don’t. My dad died just before I got on the pro circuit. I think about him a lot. He was diagnosed in September and died in October 1999.

“I know he is looking down on me. If he was here he would be coming to the tournaments and hopefully would be very proud of me, as he was a very big driving force. He kept pushing me.”

Last year, Selby revealed that he had been battling depression while ranked world No 1 and had been speaking with a doctor online to help with the illness, along with the support he has received from his wife Vicky who he has frequently credited with being a “rock” throughout his career.

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After winning his fourth Crucible title, Selby opened up on the loss of his father and hoped that he had “done him proud” throughout his career. “I never really got over my Dad, even to this day,” he told The Telegraph.

“I think that is where it stems from and then, over the years, because I have not spoken about it, it has snowballed and got worse. He was my idol – someone I looked up, and still look up to – I miss him like it was yesterday.

“I think that’s where I have got my grit and determination from. Every time I play snooker, he is with me in spirit. I feel like he is looking down on me. If I’m in my chair, feeling like I might give in, not scrap for the match, I’d feel as though I’m letting him down.

“It’s something I’ve still got hold of with him that I’ve not wanted to let go of. I’ve tried to be the professional I can to respect his wishes.”

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