He was ‘The Hurricane’ of the snooker world, but away from the green baize his life was a whirlwind of drink, womanising and controversy.
He had money, fame and success — but blew it all as his life lurched from one crisis to the next, with two failed marriages, court cases and alcohol addiction.
His brilliant talent was matched by an equally pronounced self-destructive streak.
Higgins’ unpredictable, volatile personality got him into frequent fights and arguments, on and off the snooker table.
At the time of his first World Championship triumph in 1972, he lived in a row of houses awaiting demolition in Blackburn.
He drank and he smoked. He gambled and he womanised.
“If he carries on at that rate, he won't even make 30,” remarked one snooker official.
An obsessive gambler, Higgins was reported to have lost £13,000 on horses in one day alone.
He admitted to smoking marijuana and using cocaine.
Higgins was divorced by two wives, Cara and Lynn, and was stopped from seeing his two children, Lauren and Jordan.
He had cancerous growths removed from his mouth in 1994 and 1996. Despite all warnings, he continued to smoke up to 80 cigarettes a day, and was told in 1998 he had throat cancer.
His health and financial welfare began to deteriorate rapidly, and he underwent several operations, suffering from pneumonia and breathing problems.
Recently Higgins had been living off baby food after losing his teeth as a result of radiotherapy. In his final months, he looked shockingly gaunt.
By the end, Higgins was living alone, in sheltered housing on the Donegall Road.
Alex Higgins: The genius
Alex Higgins: The hellraiser