Chicago’s celebrity dads dish on fatherhood

In the hubbub of daily life, sometimes dads’ contributions get lost in the shuffle. More than ever before, dads are the chief cook and bottle washer, playmate and coach, disciplinarian and math tutor. They help fill a home with love and inspire their kids. Our Chicago celebrity dads, who share here a slice of being dad, are the heroes in their kids’ lives.


5 Questions with | A.J. Pierzynski

White Sox catcher and two-time All-Star

  1. What was your “A-ha! I’m a dad” moment?
    The first night when my daughter was born. She wouldn’t stop crying and my wife was still on medication. There was no way I was going to be able to sleep.
  2. What is the most important lesson you want to teach your kids?
    Just to respect people, their beliefs and accept people for who they are.
  3. What do you like and dislike about raising kids in Chicago?
    I like that everything is close, you can walk all over and visit parks and just be outdoors. I don’t like the weather.
  4. What is your favorite game to play with your kids (besides baseball)?
    My kids love to play Hide& Seek.
  5. So, are you teaching them baseball?
    My son is just learning how to play baseball. We play catch and he hits a little. My daughter loves soccer.
  6. Pictured with his wife, Lisa, and Ava, 4, and Austin, 3.

David Navarro

Co-anchor of Good Day Chicago on FOX Chicago News

The moment I first felt like a dad was when it was time to bring my newborn son home from the hospital. His birth brought us such joy and happiness, and I will never forget how he tightly held onto my fingers seconds after his birth. When it was time to go, I tenderly placed him in his car seat carrier and double checked he was safe and secure. I carefully lifted it up and walked through the halls like I was carrying plutonium. I felt as though one misstep and the entire city would be lost. … I have jumped out of planes. I have reported from riots. Nothing was as terrifying.

When I swung the car seat into the back of the car, my confidence was immediately shaken. No matter how much I tried, I could not get it to properly secure in place. The discharging nurse gave me a look that said, ‘Here’s another clueless dad.’ With a ninja-like move, she slipped the car seat into its spot and wished us well. I wondered if I could ever be that cool.

I carefully avoided every pothole, every crack, every piece of rubbish. Before me was years of holidays and birthdays, years of unmatched happiness all starting with this day, the day I became a dad.

Eric Ferguson

Co-host of The Eric& Kathy Show, 101.9fm THE MIX, WTMX Chicago

I had a moment recently that may not have been the first time I felt like a dad, but it was definitely one of the best. I’m a huge sports fan, and my kids-through genetics or luck-have become that way, too. We were at the Blackhawks Game 5 against the Predators. Both of my girls and my son were really into it. When Patrick Kane scored with 13 seconds left, all three kids leaped into my arms laughing and slapping high fives. My son hugged me and burst into tears. When I asked what was wrong, he looked me in the eye and said, ‘I’m so happy we’re here together to see this!’ It’s a moment I’ll remember the rest of my life. Pictured with (from left) Avery, 8, Peyton, 7, and Ethan, 8.

Doug Nelson

Tour guide for Chicago Trolley& Double Decker Co.

Since I know the city well, I’m often able to give lost tourists directions when I’m with Tyler. Several times Ty has seen this and said, ‘You know everything.’ However, there are other times that he and I are so engrossed in a book or conversation that I absentmindedly put us on the wrong train or bus to where we are going! I sure don’t feel like I know much about directions then.

Matt Ramsey

Blue Man, performing at the Briar Street Theatre

I just remember (a) moment really when I felt like my life was now firmly rooted in the realm of fatherhood. It was kind of a sentimental moment. Alister was crying, only a few months old, in the middle of the night. I was up with him. It just came out of my mouth, ‘Daddy’s here, daddy’s here’ just trying to comfort him. … It’s been an interesting ride, kind of feeling at home with that title and finding a new definition for it for me. That was one moment when I felt like, ‘Wow, I’m a daddy.’

… I feel like my sensitivity to others has really become much more sensitive because I now am responsible for a life. It’s been a really neat thing to discover that sense in me, how much I value life and how precious it is and how fragile it is. … It’s really helped me to see others and treat others in a new way.

Pictured with Alister, 4, and Magnolia, 3

Rev. Phillip Cusic

Pastor of New Life Christian Ministries of Greater Chicago and co-founder of I’m Your Puppet Productions

(My wife) Lolita decided to have a natural birth. I knew she could do it, but I winced every time the contractions racked her body. Lolita and I (were) poised to meet the baby that would be our firstborn. Then it happened, our baby inched into the world beyond the birth canal. First a head full of hair, then a beautiful baby girl with eyes wide open emerged looking around. Tears filled my eyes and love filled my heart. God had blessed me with the most precious gift. I now understood my father’s unwavering need to protect and provide. I, too, was a father. Pictured with (from left) Jeffery, 5, Phillip, 7, and Sydney, 10

Mike Brown

Lead keeper at Brookfield Zoo

Probably every parent has at least one story of losing track, even momentarily, of their child in a crowd. We are no exception. When Andy was 5, he went to a birthday party at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant. My wife and I were delayed getting back to pick him up, and virtually all members of the birthday party had already left. The hosts, not seeing Andy, had assumed that we had picked him up as well. Suddenly, the panic of not knowing where our son was settled in. A manager paged his name several times, but in a Chuck E. Cheese, the noise of several simultaneous birthday parties swallowed up the call. After almost frantically searching from one end to the other, I was checking out a climbing structure when I found Andy sitting inside a tunnel, just as happy as could be.” Pictured with Andy, 13.

Tom Skwerski

Project manager for exhibitions, The Field Museum

We had one of those backpacks for hiking so that you could take your child with you. I used to put our 9-month-old son in it while I mowed the lawn. He used to play with my hat, pull on my ears and sing to me. By the end of the job he’d be asleep. It was the only way I could ever put him to sleep, and when I pulled him out, he would just wrap his arms around my neck and stay napping.” Pictured with Calloway, 13.




Sure, these guys are famous, but we all know who
the hero in your family is. Share stories about the dad in your
life at


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