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Michael Phelps' mom: My son has great values

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  • Debbie Phelps says she doesn't get caught up in gossip involving son, Michael
  • Michael Phelps reportedly seen partying at NY bar
  • Phelps apologized in January after photo shows him smoking from bong
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(CNN) -- Debbie Phelps, the mother of swimming star Michael Phelps, who won a record eight gold medals in Beijing, is the author of a new memoir, "A Mother For All Seasons."

Debbie Phelps, mother of Olympian Michael Phelps, tells Larry King her son has strong values.

Debbie Phelps, mother of Olympian Michael Phelps, tells Larry King her son has strong values.

Phelps spoke with CNN's Larry King about her new book, a recent tabloid report detailing her son's partying ways and the infamous bong photo.

The following is an edited version of the transcript.

Larry King: You have this terrific new book coming. If I do say so myself, it's inspiring. Yet (Thursday's) lead story in the "New York Daily News" gate crasher column -- I don't know who writes that -- "tsk, tsk," it says, "Michael Phelps, partying your face off in public is not the way to reclaim your good guy image. The Olympian was been laying relatively low since his bong smoking scandal in January was out in full force Tuesday night at New York City hot spot Marquis" -- I think is the name -- "Michael was definitely having a good time, an eyewitness tells us, drinking straight from a bottle of Grey Goose. When the DJ started playing MIA's 'Paper Planes,' he got up started dancing like a loon and kept on yelling 'shots.' Phelps definitely had enough alcohol on hand for several four round. He ordered four bottles of Vodka."

Is this tough for a mother? How do you react?

Debbie Phelps: It's one thing that I learn at a very early age is I don't get caught up in gossip columns. I know my son. He has great values, lots of integrity. That's what I think about that.

King: Did you talk to him about this?

Phelps: I always talk to Michael. I talk to Michael every day. We talked about training today and things of that nature.

King: But it would be normal to say, what happened, wouldn't it? I would say that to my son.

Phelps: We give support. We give guidance. We give an ear to listen. And, again, I don't get caught up in gossip.

King: Therefore, you don't believe it? I just want to establish what your feelings are.

Phelps: I don't get caught up in gossip, Mr. King.

King: What about something that wasn't gossip, the picture with the bong thing. It was a picture.

Phelps: It's a picture, that's true. But, you know, a picture can say many things. It has many words. It has many meanings. It has many visualizations that you want to think. It depends on the person who is looking at that picture.

You know, as a mom, I support all three of my children. I believe that no matter who you are in this country, in this world, there are obstacles that get into your life. I call them speed bumps in school sometimes. I heard someone say lightning bolts. That's another term for that.

But, you know, how do we grow? How do we learn? You raise a child through 18. You send them off to college. You give them the roots. You give them the foundation to be a strong, young man, a strong lady. Life throws curve balls to you sometimes. How do you handle that curve ball?

King: Michael is 23. That's an adult. He's an adult.

Phelps: A young adult.

King: Young adult. So one could say it's his life. He chooses to lead it. As our parent, we do our best to guide them, but 23 is 23. Do you view him still as a kid?

Phelps: I view my 31-year-old daughter as a kid sometimes. You know, I look at each of my children independently and individually of themselves. They have many strong values, strong points, professionalism. I'm just very proud of all three of them and everything they've done.

King: Do you think these kind of stories -- and you don't pay attention to them -- hurt your book?

Phelps: I was asked many times and told many times, "Debbie, you need to write a book some day." As an educator, I'm thinking, I would really like to do that. It became a personal goal of mine to be able to publish a book, not knowing exactly what it was going to be.

Was it going to be my life? Was it going to be parenting? Was it going to be swimming? Was it just going to be motivational and inspirational? When I take a look at the book I was able to write, I have great pride in that book because it shows other people, every woman, but not even women -- men can read this book also -- the inspiration and motivation of life.

King: The question is, "Do you think these kind of stories might hurt the chance of people buying the book, which is what you want?"

Phelps: People are going to have to make that decision.

King: Do you think it might?

Phelps: Life is life. I do want to say, though, in reference to the Beijing Olympics, we, as a family, I think, made a great impression on the world, on the United States. My son has great love for me. It's a great bonding relationship. Families are very important.

King: Is he still a role model, do you think?

Phelps: You know, when I think of the word role model, I'll go back to me being a little girl. It was my mom and my dad. They were my role models when I was growing up. When I hear that role model in a sentence with my son, what I think about with Michael is what he does with and for children. It might be things people don't even know of -- his association with the Boys and Girls Club. For years, he has done that (and) his association with Make A Wish.

He touches kids' lives. So if an individual, wherever they may be, may select my son as a role model, I say that my son has strong values. I say he's a human being. And I say that from obstacles that get in people's ways -- we all have them, Mr. King, and you know that -- what do you learn from them and how do you rise above the occasion?

All About Michael Phelps

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