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A photograph of Ronnie O’Sullivan playing in Sofia

Ronnie O'Sullivan: Biography

Ronnie O’Sullivan playing in Sofia | Image: GEORGID /

Ronnie O’Sullivan is an English snooker player best known as one of the most talented and awarded athletes in the sport.

Professional snooker player Ronnie O'Sullivan was born in Wordsley, England, in 1975. Overcoming the imprisonment of both parents and his battles with drugs and depression, the "Rocket" rose to the pinnacle of the sport by winning his first UK Championship in 1993 and his first World Championship in 2001. He set a record for maximum breaks in 2014, and another record for century breaks in 2015.

Early Life

Ronald Antonio O'Sullivan was born on December 5, 1975, in Wordsley, West Midlands, England. Brought up in Essex, he displayed immense talent at an early age in snooker, a cue sport played on a table with balls and pockets. His father, Ron, who owned a chain of sex shops, installed a snooker table in their home, and supported his son's trips to clubs to compete.

At age 10, O'Sullivan made his first century break—scoring at least 100 points in one trip to the table—and at 15 he became the youngest in an official tournament to record a maximum break, a stretch in which a player "pots" all balls without missing.

Snooker Career

After turning professional in 1992, O'Sullivan won his first 38 matches. But his success was muted by the imprisonment of his father, who was sentenced to 18 years for killing another man during a bar fight. Shortly afterward, O'Sullivan's mother, Maria, was indicted for tax evasion and also imprisoned for a year.

Despite the distractions, O'Sullivan quickly ascended to the pinnacle of the sport. He became the youngest player to win the UK Championship in 1993, and in 1995 he claimed his first Masters title. Nicknamed the Rocket for his rapid playing style, he dazzled onlookers at the 1997 World Championship by clearing the table in five minutes and 20 seconds for the fastest recorded maximum in history.

O'Sullivan won the World Championship for the first time in 2001, and by early 2009 he had added two more World titles, three more UK victories and four more Masters wins. A pronounced slump seemingly left him on the downside of his career, but he rebounded to win back-to-back World titles in 2012 and '13. He notched another Masters victory in 2014, a year in which he also established a record with his 12th recorded maximum en route to winning the Welsh Open.

Following another triumph at the 2014 UK Championship—his fifth win there—the Rocket entered the record books once again by compiling career century No. 776 at the Masters in early 2015.

In 2016, he won the Welsh Open and was runner-up in both the European Masters and the UK Championship.

Personal Life

O'Sullivan has been candid about his struggles with drugs and depression throughout his career. He has written two autobiographies; in his second, he describes how he turned to running to remain focused and fit. In 2016 he also released a crime novel, Framed, and is in the process of writing another one.

O'Sullivan has three children: Taylor-Ann, Lily and Ronnie Jr. He split with longtime girlfriend Jo Langley in 2008 and became engaged to actress Laila Rouass in 2013. The snooker champ has also reunited with his father, who earned a permanent release from prison in 2010.