What We Know About Dustin Johnson's Troubled Past

As one of the top-ranked golfers in the Professional Golfer's Association, according to PGATour.com, Dustin Johnson has a lot to be thankful for. As well as his successful golf career, Business Insider reports that he's built a beautiful family with fiancee Paulina Gretzky, who also happens to be the daughter of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky. But life hasn't always been smooth sailing. Johnson's troubled past casts a dark shadow over his fame — and with a background of infidelity and drug abuse, critics have compared him to other controversial sports figures like Tiger Woods, via Radar Online.

Johnson's checkered past dates back to his younger years spent in Columbia, South Carolina, which were rife with athletic success, but tinged with crime and tragedy. As the New York Times reports, he began getting into trouble shortly after his parents' divorce when he was a teenager. At 16 years old, he and four other teens robbed a home under the direction of Steve Gillian, who was an older brother to one of the boys, per the New York Times. But after Johnson stole a handgun and used a fake I.D. to buy ammunition at Walmart, Gillian used the weapon to kill another man. As the outlet notes, Gillian received a life sentence, and Johnson paid restitution and was later pardoned by the state.

Dustin Johnson's career was plagued with scandal

Unfortunately, Dustin Johnson's troubles didn't end with his teenage years. In 2009, he was charged with a DUI and arrested with a blood alcohol level of .19, per WMBF News. At the time, the golfer issued a statement apologizing for his actions. "I made an error in judgment that I deeply regret," he said, via WMBF News. "I have let myself down and others who support me. I am handling the matter privately, and rest assured, I will definitely learn from my mistake."

Along with alcohol problems, Johnson struggled with drugs early on in his career, per Sportscasting. He was suspended by the PGA multiple times for marijuana and cocaine use. In 2009, 2012, and 2014, he failed mandatory drug tests, which prevented him from participating in PGA Tours. Following the 2014 suspension, he took a "leave of absence," but his story doesn't stop at substance abuse. Radar Online reported that Johnson was linked to fellow golfer Will MacKenzie's then-wife Alli Mackenzie in 2014, and the two sparked infidelity rumors after they were spotted flirting in a supermarket. In fact, ever since Johnson's engagement to Paulina Gretzky in 2013, the two have weathered plenty of alleged cheating scandals. In 2018, Johnson was once again accused of cheating on Gretzky, per TMZ. As of this writing, Johnson and Gretzky seem happier than ever, and are currently planning for their wedding in Tennessee, according to Golf Week.