Aveion Cason Sr. is a former NFL running back who spent nine seasons playing with the pros. Despite the rarity of his football success, Cason grew up experiencing a much more common epidemic faced by boys across the nation: He is a fatherless son. Yet when Cason had a son of his own, Aveion Jr., the former NFL player was absent in his child's life as well, continuing the fatherless-son cycle.
Though Cason, whose NFL teams included the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys, recently reentered Aveion Jr.'s life, both still harbor strong emotions about growing up fatherless, something they open up about on "Oprah's Lifeclass" with Iyanla Vanzant.
"I grew up without a father," Cason says. "I feel resentment with my father coming up because he's never been around, and when I talk to my son, I feel like he feels the same way."
As tears roll down the boy's face, Iyanla walks over to encourage Aveion Jr. to share his feelings directly, in his own words. Aveion Jr. tells Iyanla that he hadn't seen his father since he was about 4 years old. Now 13, he spent those near-10 years feeling abandoned and insecure.
"I think I was a mistake," Aveion Jr. says quietly.
"And what did you feel about [Cason] when he wasn't there?" Iyanla asks Aveion Jr.
"I didn't have a father," he replies.
Iyanla then instructs Aveion Jr. to speak directly to his father. "Look at him," she tells the boy. "Tell him how it felt."
"It felt horrible that you left me," Aveion Jr. says to Cason. "It made me feel like I was a mistake... I loved the person, but I never see him."
"And that made you feel what?" Iyanla asks.
"Like I wasn't supposed to be here," Aveion Jr. says.
Now that Cason has returned to Aveion Jr.'s life, Iyanla asks another question. "What do you want to tell [your father] now that he's back?"
"That I love him... That I want him to be here," Aveion Jr. says, before looking at his dad. "You don't get to leave me again."
The conversation about fatherless sons continues on "Oprah's Lifeclass," airing Sunday, July 7, at 9 p.m. ET on OWN. Then, on July 14 and 21, Iyanla and Oprah address the issue of daddyless daughters.
Also On HuffPost: Celeb Dads Who Got Custody
In March 2011, a Chicago court awarded NBA star Dwayne Wade <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/13/dwyane-wade-custody-battle_n_835101.html" target="_hplink">sole "care, custody and control" of his two sons</a>, following a bitter custody battle with ex-wife Siohvaughn Wade. At the time of the ruling, the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/13/dwyane-wade-custody-battle_n_835101.html" target="_hplink">Miami Heat player told the <em>Associated Press</em></a> that "a huge weight is off my back." Wade added: "My life changed in a huge way. Mentally, I've been preparing for it for over a year now. To me, it's bigger than that. For me, it shows a lot of people that you need to fight to be in your kids' lives sometimes. You fight until you can't fight any more. That's all I was trying to be, a father in his kids' lives."
In June 2011, Jesse James was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/27/jesse-james-custody-battl_n_911073.html" target="_hplink">awarded sole custody of his then seven-year-old daughter Sunny</a>, bringing to a close an extended court battle with ex-wife Janine Lindemulder. The "Outlaw Garage" star <a href="http://www.radaronline.com/exclusives/2012/03/jesse-james-daughter-tattoo-name-his-wrist-spring-break" target="_hplink">recently tweeted a photo</a> of Sunny inking his wrist with her name.
In July 2008, Britney Spears ended her custody battle with her ex-husband, Kevin Federline, agreeing to give him <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,385582,00.html" target="_hplink">sole legal and physical custody of their two sons</a>, Sean Preston and Jayden James. Spears would continue to have visitation rights. Since then, the couple have reportedly <a href="http://health.howstuffworks.com/pregnancy-and-parenting/parenting/5-celebrity-custody-battles3.htm" target="_hplink">moved closer to shared custody</a>.
Lenny Kravitz's daughter, Zoe, lived with his ex-wife <a href="http://www.nzherald.co.nz/entertainment/news/article.cfm?c_id=1501119&objectid=10716179" target="_hplink">Lisa Bonet until the age of 11</a>. After that, Kravitz reportedly <a href="http://globalgrind.com/entertainment/dwyane-wade-9-other-cool-celebrity-mr-moms-photos?page=5" target="_hplink">received primary custody</a> of Zoe, with Bonet <a href="http://www.nzherald.co.nz/entertainment/news/article.cfm?c_id=1501119&objectid=10716179" target="_hplink">spending summers</a> with the teen. In September 2007, Kravitz <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/25/AR2007092501160.html" target="_hplink">told the <em>Washington Post</em></a> about his life with Zoe, who is now 23 and a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/15/celebrity-kids-10-rising-_n_1095460.html#s475518&title=Zoe_Kravitz" target="_hplink">burgeoning actress and model</a>. "Watching my daughter grow up is the highlight of everything," the rockstar said.
Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo announced the <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/jul/06/cristiano-ronaldo-baby-mother" target="_hplink">birth of a son, Cristiano Jr., in June 2010</a>. The identity of the boy's mother is unknown and the Real Madrid player said he had "<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/jul/06/cristiano-ronaldo-baby-mother" target="_hplink">exclusive guardianship</a>" of the child. Last month, the soccer player raised eyebrows when he was photographed driving his Lamborghini with his <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2137270/Cristiano-Ronaldo-shocks-driving-son-lap--reunites-girlfriend-Irina-Shayk-rare-unity.html?ito=feeds-newsxml" target="_hplink">22-month-old son</a> sitting on his lap.