by Kenneth Braswell

The afternoon sun filtered through the windows, casting a warm glow on James Worthy as he settled into his chair. His eyes, wise with the life experiences he’s navigated, sparkled with both pain and hope. He was about to share a story that would resonate with fathers and families, a story that is unfortunately all too common, yet rarely spoken about. The story was that of loss, but also a remarkable revelation about the meaning and importance of fatherhood. Inspired from an interview on the “I Am Dad Podcast,” Worthy’s poignant words beckon us to reflect on what it means to be a father in today’s world.

James Worthy, not to be confused with the basketball legend, is an advocate for responsible fatherhood. However, the tale he unfurled was deeply personal. “I lost my first child,” he said softly, pausing to collect himself. His voice had a tone of vulnerability, a human quality often considered taboo for men to express openly. Worthy made it clear, “It’s okay to hurt, it’s okay to sniffle. You’re not a weak man because you hurt.”

In those first moments when Worthy heard the news of his child’s passing, the world seemed to close in on him. The air felt thick, and the walls of the hospital seemed as if they were collapsing. But then, a man named Moses appeared, almost as if by divine intervention, to provide emotional support. “And he just was there, and he rode with me to my house and he rode back to the hospital with me,” Worthy recounted. The experience with Moses was so transformative for him, it fundamentally shifted how he approached his advocacy work. “That’s what drove me to do this even better, because that whole piece now; I got that in my narrative of fatherhood, losing my first child,” he stated.

As Worthy explained, Moses was there when he needed him the most, but he disappeared just as quietly, almost as if his role had been fulfilled. Kenneth Braswell, the podcast host, reflected, “That’s what angels do. They show up when you need them, and when you don’t need them, they kind of fade out.”

In a culture that often pressures men to suppress their emotions, Worthy emphasized that it’s crucial for fathers to break free from these toxic expectations. His narrative is part of a larger, under-told story about the critical role fathers play in their children’s lives. He spoke of how many men tend to shy away from spaces where they feel unwelcome, which can sometimes mean distancing themselves from family life. “We are not gonna fight you to wear the pants in the house. We’re just gonna go to another house,” he expressed, capturing the essence of how men might withdraw when they feel they don’t have a place in family dynamics.

But Worthy stresses that men should not, and cannot, withdraw. “I get to talk to fathers about that. Man, please understand how important it is to be connected to your child. ‘Cause what if you lose them?” he insisted. These words aren’t just a cautionary tale but a clarion call for men to understand that their role as fathers is indispensable. Whether it is being there for the first steps or being a shoulder to cry on during life’s tough breaks, a father’s presence—or absence—has a lasting impact.

Worthy often cites an essential resource for fathers and families:, part of the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse. “That phone number is something I give out regularly,” he said, referring to the helpline that offers support and resources for fathers. Even here, he pointed out, the calls aren’t only from fathers but from grandmothers, aunts, and mothers as well. The need for supporting men in their role as fathers is a community endeavor, not isolated to one gender or relationship.

James Worthy’s journey wasn’t just about coping with loss or even about his experience with Moses; it’s a narrative about understanding the profound and multi-faceted role of a father. It’s about how fatherhood is not just a title or a biological fact but a commitment that requires emotional vulnerability, enduring presence, and, most importantly, love.

As Kenneth Braswell eloquently wrapped up the podcast, he said, “Thank you for your commitment. You are worthy. You are worthy.” Indeed, James Worthy, through his vulnerability and commitment, reminds us all of our worth and the invaluable role of fathers. His story teaches us that being a dad is not about being devoid of emotions but about embracing them, not just for oneself, but for the greater good of our families and society. So, as we ponder the complexities and joys of fatherhood, let’s take a page from Worthy’s book and remember that a father’s love and presence are irreplaceable gifts that shape the future.

Posted by Fathers Incorporated

Fathers Incorporated (FI) is a national, non-profit organization working to build stronger families and communities through the promotion of Responsible Fatherhood. Established in 2004, FI has a unique seat at the national table, working with leaders in the White House, Congress, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Family Law, and the Responsible Fatherhood Movement. FI works collaboratively with organizations around the country to identify and advocate for social and legislative changes that lead to healthy father involvement with children, regardless of the father’s marital or economic status, or geographic location. From employment and incarceration issues, to child support and domestic violence, FI addresses long-standing problems to achieve long-term results for children, their families, the communities, and nation in which they live.

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