25 dads who rock!
Retired Soccer Player, Model and Fashion Icon
Children: Brooklyn, 14, Cruz, 10, Romeo 8, Harper, 1
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When a KissCam recently caught the newly retired soccer star at an NHL game smooching his baby daughter on the cheek, it was precisely the umpteenth time he had been spotted at a sports event with a kid in tow. You have to love a dad who shares his passions with his progeny (it also carries over to his tat obsession: All four of their names are inked on him)—and who has his priorities straight. He once skipped a practice to be with a sick son, even though it meant a hefty fine. “Being a dad is more important than football, more important than anything,” he said.
NFL Quarterback for the New Orleans Saints
Children: Baylen, 4, Bowen, 2, Callen, infant
One of the most memorable images from Super Bowl XLIV was the Saints quarterback holding his then-1-year-old son aloft while confetti rained down. Drew’s roster of boys has increased by two in the three years since, and his family-man image has grown with it. While other athletes push shoes or sports drinks, his endorsements have taken a decidedly different bent: Tide, Pampers, Vicks VapoRub. “That’s because I see myself as a husband and father before I see myself as a football player,” he explained to Fortune. This family focus carries over to philanthropy as well: His foundation has helped reinvigorate parks and schools in New Orleans.
Ernest Broadnax Jr.
Children: Ernest III, 7, Elise, 5
This San Antonio, TX, single father says any parent would have done what he did. Perhaps. But that doesn’t make what he did any less heroic. Two years ago, after a space heater sparked a fire that spread quickly through his home, the then-33-year-old computer tech ran through flames, literally, while carrying his young son and daughter to safety. He suffered burns on his legs and hands in the process. “I’d walk through hell for my kids,” Ernest said days later, after being released from the hospital. “I did. I knocked the devil in his jaw.”
CEO of Grant Thornton
Samantha, 13, Emma, 10
As CEO of the accounting and advisory firm, Stephen leads one of the Top 10 of the Working Mother 100 Best Companies, thanks to its flexible work schedules and family-friendly benefits like back-up dependent care. But this adoptive father of two daughters also earns points for his work as a board member of Half the Sky, a charity devoted to improving conditions in Chinese orphanages. Stephen explains on the organization’s Web site: “When my wife, Kim, and I adopted our first daughter from an orphanage in a remote part of the Guangdong province, we could not forget the children we left behind that day.”
Children: Kitty 10, Mary Lou, 7
To call his semi-autobiographical TV series Louie a comedy is to slight it. The divorced dad of two is doing nothing short of teaching us to be better parents. With scenes that are alternately side-splitting and heart-tearing, he holds up a lens to our bungles (he berates one daughter for playing her violin when it’s not practice time, even though, as she points out, “it’s beautiful”), our absurdities (how do you teach respect for a great aunt who spews the “n” word?), and our pain (one episode opens with his youngest matter-of-factly stating that she loves Mom more). It’s his imperfections that make Louie a role mode for real life.
U.S. Representative (R-CA)
Children: Austin 17, Samantha, 14
You’d be hard-pressed to find a Congressman who didn’t tout himself as a “family man,” as Denham does on his website. But in his case, it happens to be true. The California representative rarely lets the job keep him from missing his son’s football or basketball games, offers his staff flextime and telecommuting, and recently voted in favor of the Working Families Flexibility Act, to give employees the option of time-off as compensation for overtime. Plus, how can you not like a guy who scored his teen daughter tickets to the Writers Guild Awards so she could hobnob with the likes of Tina Fey?
Child: Alice Bee, 2
This Maryland-based photographer has a hilariously twisted response to all those cutesy shots that parents post on Facebook. His cartoonish ongoing photo series, “World’s Best Father,” depicts him putting his now-2-year-old daughter in all kinds of wholly inappropriate situations: giving her a bath in the washing machine, carving a pumpkin with her inside it, making her iron his shirts, speeding to work with her strapped to the roof and so on. No need to call child welfare services: It’s all heavily Photoshopped. As David explains, the images are every new dad’s neuroses come to life, “a parody of the father I hope I never become.”
Basketball Player for the Oklahoma City Thunder
Children: Marshall, Tatum, Drew, Chloe
The veteran NBA point guard and head of the players’ union won our hearts forever when he missed the start of a crucial 2007 Utah Jazz playoff game to be with his then-11-month-old daughter, who was undergoing emergency surgery for eye cancer. He arrived at the arena in the third quarter to a standing ovation and wound up hitting the game-sealing shot in overtime. But his real hero turn came in a post-game interview, when Derek had the presence of mind to urge all parents to have their children’s eyes checked for retinoblastoma.
Children: Oscar 13, Ava 7
Perhaps it stems from his tough path to parenthood—a couple of miscarriages by his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, then adoption—but no one seems to relish dad-dom more than Hugh. The countless photos of the one-time People magazine sexiest man alive in playful snowball fights, walking his scooter-bound daughter to school and tossing a football with his son can’t all be staged. “The things that I really cherish are the everyday moments,” the Australian-born actor told Parade, “like sitting around cooking pancakes together on a Sunday morning.” (All together now: awww.) Hugh and Deborra-Lee made a conscious choice to adopt mixed-race children: “It was like, where’s the [biggest] need?”
Rapper, Music Mogul, Sports Agent
Child: Blue Ivy, 1
Leave it to the legendary rapper to express his joy for his baby daughter in verse. Two days after Blue Ivy’s 2012 birth, he released "Glory," which features her infant cries (making her the youngest person to ever chart on Billboard) and lyrics that would make even the thuggiest rapper’s heart melt: The most amazing feeling I feel / Words can’t describe what I’m feeling for real /Maybe I paint the sky blue / My greatest creation was you. Papa then promptly took a paternity leave from the studio. “I just really wanna hang out with her,” he said. We wouldn’t expect any less from Mrs. Carter’s life partner.