When he was 11 years old, NFL superstar Terrell Owens made a shocking discovery: His biological father had been living across the street from him his entire life. His mother had an affair with the older, married neighbor named Mr. Russell when she was just 16 years old and got pregnant. It wasn't until Terrell was interested in Russell's daughter that he learned he was his biological father as well.
On "Iyanla: Fix My Life," life coach Iyanla Vanzant traveled to Owens' hometown to help him come to terms with his painful past. In the above video, Iyanla brings father and son together and asks Owens to open up.
"I think everything that has happened to me, I've been a product of my environment," Owens says. "I knew I wasn't happy inside but I always played it off. I put a smile on my face when I was hurting or sad inside."
"Even with relationships that I had with women, I really didn't know how to have a relationship with them. Those are things that I know I probably should have been taught as a kid and I never was. And I guess the question I should have asked maybe a couple of years ago was, Why wasn't I told? Why did it take for me to have an interest in my sister, or a liking in my sister, to know who my dad was?"
Russell says he was waiting for the right time to tell Owens that he was his father. "It could have been sooner," Russell says. "It should have been sooner."
"For me, to live across the street and know that you were my dad and know that on that side of the street you had kids, you had a wife -- to me, that was a family and I wasn't a part of that," Owens says. "I really couldn't understand or wrap my brain around why I was across the street. My mom was elsewhere and I'm staying with my grandmother and I didn't have a dad and it hurt."
Russell says he provided financial support for Owens and worked two jobs, but the reason he couldn't have a relationship with his son is because he was married to another woman and had two children. "I couldn't do what I wanted to do. I would like to have took him fishing, ball games," he says.
"For me, whether you were married, had four jobs, lived in another state -- this was your son," Iyanla says to Russell. "He never felt you claimed him as your son."
"Let him know he broke your heart," Iyanla says to Owens, who breaks down into tears.
"Well, son, I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive," Russell says to Owens. "I thought I was doing the best that I could do at the time and I hope you can forgive me. I want you to know that I love you."
"I know, I forgive you," Owens says, and Russell stands up to hug him.
"We're gonna work on this relationship," Russell says.
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