20 Celebrity Single Dads Who Brought Their Kids Up On Their Own

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There are many reasons a person might become a single parent. It could be through divorce, death, a conscious choice or a multitude of other factors. Solo parenthood is, however, broadly considered more difficult than raising children within a relationship. Yet these celebrity single dads are clearly giving it their all, balancing fatherhood with a career.

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20. Norman Reedus

Norman Reedus, star of The Walking Dead, has a son called Mingus with model Helena Christensen. The couple split up, and Reedus experienced single fatherhood when Mingus came to live with him in Los Angeles. “Have you ever sat in a parent-teacher meeting with a bunch of moms and you?” he asked Elle in 2013. “That’s terrifying.”

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Mingus is a young adult now, and he has a baby sister. In 2018 Reedus welcomed a daughter with actress Diane Kruger. “[Reedus] teaches me a lot [about parenting], because he’s done it before,” Kruger told PORTER Edit in 2019. “There’s definitely something to be said for being with someone who is doing it for the second time.”

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19. Ryan Phillippe

Actor Ryan Phillippe was once married to Reese Witherspoon. But when they divorced in 2006 there was some difficulty over which adult would get custody of the children, Ava and Deacon. Eventually they got joint custody. But since they were living apart, Phillipe spent some time parenting the kids solo.

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Phillippe spoke about the arrangements to Entertainment Tonight in 2016. “You have to get to that point as a divorced parent, as any parent, where you’re not putting yourself first,” he said. “You want the kids’ experience to be its own and not like, ‘Well, I need to have my time!’”

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18. Al Pacino

Al Pacino’s childhood was marked by his parents’ divorce – and so he didn’t want his own children growing up without a father. He never married either mother of his kids, but he was determined to be a dad. “I wanted to be different with my children. I wanted to be responsible to them, so I divide my time between two coasts,” he told the Guardian in 2015.

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That same year he told Vanity Fair he would sooner raise his children than act. “I would rather work less, to be honest with you,” he said. “I have young children that live out here [in Beverly Hills], so I’d like to be more involved with them, because I am a single dad.”

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17. Pierce Brosnan

Turns out James Bond is an amazing dad. In 1991 Pierce Brosnan’s wife Cassandra died of ovarian cancer, leaving him with three kids to raise alone. One of them was Sean, the child he’d had with her. While the other two were Cassandra’s children from a previous relationship, Charlotte and Christopher.

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Brosnan raised all the children to adulthood, but then tragedy struck again. In 2013 the same cancer claimed the life of his daughter Charlotte, herself a mother of two. But there is still happiness in Brosnan’s life. He has four sons now in total – Christopher, Sean and two children with journalist Keely Shaye Smith named Paris and Dylan.

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16. Usher

When Usher divorced his wife Tameka Foster in 2009, a very public custody battle followed. The children involved were both under ten at the time. In the end, Usher was given full custody of the two boys, Usher Raymond V and Naviyd. And eventually he talked to Oprah’s Next Chapter about what happened.

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Despite the bitter split, Usher was diplomatic in the 2012 interview. “I’ve been a man of integrity throughout the entire process, which I hope my boys will understand,” he said. “I was born to do what I’m doing as a dad… When I had them, that’s when they became a priority. It wasn’t because of this case.”

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15. Andy Cohen

In December 2018 Andy Cohen announced on Watch What Happens Live that he was expecting a baby via surrogate. “Tonight, I want you to be the first to know that after many years of careful deliberation, a fair amount of prayers, and the benefit of science – if all goes according to plan in about six weeks’ time I’m going to become a father,” he said.

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In February 2019 Cohen told People he was planning to raise the baby solo. “It’s not something in your mind – ‘Oh, I want to do this alone.’ But I like being alone,” he explained “I didn’t want to wait. To me it would have to be a very special person to say, ‘Let’s do this together.’ And I would love that, and that person could be having coffee down the street at this moment and I’ll meet him soon.”

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14. Cristiano Ronaldo

Soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo announced via Facebook in 2010 that he was a father now. The baby was named Cristiano Jr. after himself. However, he kept the identity of the mother a closely guarded secret. He would, he explained, have “exclusive guardianship, as agreed with the baby’s mother, who preferred to keep her identity confidential.”

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Since then Ronaldo has spoken out about being a single dad – as well as the circumstances surrounding the situation. “People speculate I was with this girl or another, or there was a surrogate mother. I have never told anyone and never will,” he said on camera for the 2015 documentary Ronaldo. “Some children never get to know their parents, neither mother nor father. Having a father is enough.”

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13. Cary Grant

Cary Grant was a good actor, but according to his daughter Jennifer he was an even better father. Jennifer was the daughter of Grant and his one-time wife Dyan Cannon, who divorced in 1968. After that, Grant threw himself into raising his child, considering parenthood to be a higher calling than acting.

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Jennifer has spoken about the great childhood Grant gave her. Despite his being a film star, he raised her as normally as possible, giving her only a small allowance and a strict curfew. Jennifer adored him. “He was such a happy father… he was more tender than the Cary Grant of film,” she told Newsweek in 2011. “He was softer, sweeter.”

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12. Colin Farrell

Actor Colin Farrell is a single father to two boys, one of whom has special needs. His oldest child, James, has the genetic condition Angelman syndrome, which can impede development. Farrell is naturally “completely devoted to giving his sons the best life possible,” as he told OK! magazine in 2015.

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Farrell prioritizes his sons above relationships. “My children have given me purpose in my life and I embrace it wholeheartedly,” he told OK! “I’ve basically been single for five years and even though I love women, it’s difficult to get involved. Being single is much easier.” Yet he was still voted Hottest Single Celebrity Dad by PerfectMatch.com in 2009.

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11. Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson became a single father after a tragic accident claimed the life of his spouse Natasha Richardson in 2009. At the time, their children Micheál and Daniel were only teenagers. Neeson began to juggle his film career with the very difficult endeavor of raising the kids into adulthood without their mom.

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In 2010 an unnamed “close friend” spoke to People about how Neeson was doing as a parent. “Liam’s attitude is ‘This terrible thing happened, and we have to get back to our lives because that’s what Natasha would have wanted,’” they said. Luckily for Neeson, his late wife’s family gathered round to help him.

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10. Rick Moranis

Ghostbusters star Rick Moranis was a popular actor throughout the ’80s, but suddenly he quit acting and faded from the public eye. The reason why apparently had everything to do with a personal tragedy. Moranis’ wife Ann died of breast cancer, leaving his two children without a mother. Moranis decided to become their full-time parent.

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In 2013 Moranis talked about his choice on Bullseye with Jesse Thorn. “The decision in my case to become a stay-at-home dad, which people do all the time, I guess wouldn’t have meant as much to people if I had had a very simple kind of ‘make a living’ existence,” he said. “But because I came from celebrity and fame and what was a peak of a career, that was intriguing to people and to me it wasn’t that.”

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9. Ricky Martin

Ricky Martin made the decision to become a single father in 2008. He had twin children, Valentino and Matteo, via a surrogate mother. And now the family has expanded. In 2016 Martin began seeing Jwan Yosef, a man he ended up marrying. The two eventually welcomed a new baby, daughter Lucia. And according to Martin the twins loved her.

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Martin may have raised the twins as a single father, but he’s delighted to be part of a two-parent family now. “My kids ask me about having two daddies and I tell them we are a part of a modern family,” he told Out magazine in 2018. “This is a beautiful sense of freedom.”

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8. Dean Cain

Dean Cain – the man who played Superman on television – is a single father. He was granted custody of his child Christopher in 2011 after a protracted legal battle with his girlfriend Samantha Torres. “It was really tough,” Cain told People in 2014. “Ultimately, we just disagreed on the best way to raise Christopher.”

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Now, Christopher is a teenager and still close to his dad. And Cain’s relationship with Torres eventually mended to an extent as well. “Christopher sees his mom as much as he wants. But she’s got her hands full, and he’s got a stable place with me,” Cain told People. The kids Torres had later even call him “Uncle Dean.”

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7. Lenny Kravitz

Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet had one daughter together, Zoe, who is now an actress. After Kravitz and Bonet split up, Zoe was sent to New York to live with her father at age eleven. She also had a few almost-stepmothers in Vanessa Paradis, Adriana Lima and Nicole Kidman. But she was always the most important lady in Kravitz’s life.

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Today, father and daughter are still very close. “I’m extremely proud of her, just for the person that she is,” Kravitz told The Independent in 2018. “I’m of course happy for her success, but the main thing is the person that she’s become. She’s a soulful human being and she’s doing what she loves. She did it on her own, with no help from myself or her mother other than her upbringing and what she was exposed to.”

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6. Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade was once married to his high school sweetheart Siohvaughn Funches, and he had two kids with her. When the couple divorced, things got difficult. Eventually Wade was given custody of the children, Zaire and Zion, and became a single dad to them. In 2011 he wrote about the experience for Newsweek.

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Wade made it clear he wanted his children to bear no ill will towards their mom. “Going forward, I want my sons to have a healthy relationship with their mother, and that’s something we’re working on,” he wrote. Now the whole family is expanded, as Wade has had two other children and married actress Gabrielle Union.

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5. Taye Diggs

Taye Diggs was once married to Idina Menzel, and they had a child named Walker Nathaniel. Ever since the couple divorced in 2014, Diggs has thrown himself into single parenthood – even though it makes dating difficult. “If I see somebody it’s literally, ‘So, do you have kids? Is he out of diapers yet?’” he told Wendy Williams in 2014.

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A few years later and his little boy still wants his dad all to himself. “According to him, I can’t date!” Diggs told the world on The Rachael Ray Show. “He came right out and said ‘No, I don’t want you to have a girlfriend. I just want to hang out with you.’” That’s adorable, but Taye Diggs is nonetheless reportedly off the market now.

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4. Larry Birkhead

The story of how Larry Birkhead became a famous single dad is, unfortunately, a tragic one. When model Anna Nicole Smith died in 2007, the paternity of her child Dannielyn was still in question. Many men claimed they were the father, including Smith’s attorney Howard K. Stern. But a DNA analysis proved it was Birkhead.

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Dannielyn now lives with Birkhead and he’s careful to guard her privacy. Although eventually the little girl will inherit millions of dollars, at the moment she seemingly has a fairly normal life. She doesn’t actually know much about her mother. “At this point, she thinks her mom was a very pretty person and she watches over her every day and she’s in heaven,” Birkhead told ABC News in 2013.

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3. George Lucas

Can you imagine if your father was the creator of Star Wars? That’s the reality for Amanda, Jett and Katie Lucas. All of them are adults now, but they spent their childhood being raised mostly by Lucas. Amanda was adopted by he and his wife Marcia before they divorced, and then Lucas adopted Jett and Katie as a single dad.

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In 1999 Lucas told the New York Times, “There’s no one I admire more than single mothers, because they are the real heroes.” And he went on to say, “Children are the whole point of life. Even as I was getting divorced, I decided that taking care of the kids was the most important thing I could do.” Even more important, apparently, than even Star Wars.

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2. Prince Charles

In the years following 1997, Prince Charles became one of the most famous single fathers in the world. It was for a tragic reason however. In August 1997 Princess Diana, the ex-wife of Charles and mother of his children, died in a car crash. With the whole world watching, Charles had to raise his sons to adulthood alone.

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When Prince Harry and Prince William looked back on that time in the 2017 documentary Diana, 7 Days, they had nothing but sympathy for their father. “[He] was there for us – he was the one out of two left, and he tried to do his best and to make sure that we were protected and looked after,” Prince Harry said.

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1. Nicolas Cage

Famous actor Nicolas Cage has two children in all. His first son is the now-adult Weston Coppola Cage, born in 1990 to Cage and actress Christina Fulton. Cage and Fulton never married, and for a time Cage raised Weston as a single father. His relationship with Fulton, unfortunately, remained a hostile one.

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In 2009 Cage played a single father in Knowing, and he used his own experiences for the role. “When Weston was growing up I was a single father in Los Angeles and there were some challenges,” he told Parade that year. “But just because you’re a man doesn’t mean you can’t raise your kid. I learned that if you are a single father don’t give up no matter what they say.”

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