Father Figures: Hope for the Future

“My dad got dementia when I was 13. I was the first person he forgot and he started to hate me. I lost my relationship with my mom (which is rebuilding now, thank goodness!) and I was very alone. My dad passed 5 years later when I was 18.

At 27, I found out that my fiance was pregnant. I was terrified. My dad had missed so many major moments in my life I was lost, to say the least, thinking that something like that might happen to me.

My fiance got very sick due to nurse negligence and ended up with blood poisoning and major tremors. The fear of my son growing up without his mother was a real possibility. I cared for him for 2 weeks in the hospital by her side until she was cleared to leave.

Now I sit at home with the love of my life and my son and I can see only hope for the future.”

– Brandon Sawler

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email [email protected]

Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

Remembering John Altobelli, Father and Coach Lost in Calabasas Helicopter Crash

Kobe and John Altobelli
(Orange Coast College)

The horrific helicopter crash that claimed nine lives in Calabasas, California on Sunday has been dominating news headlines due to the shocking loss of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna.

The vehicle was transporting passengers to Thousand Oaks for a girls basketball game, in which Gianna was expected to play and Kobe was going to coach.

‘The Dad’ has created tributes and posted content honoring Kobe’s memory since the accident, but we also want to acknowledge and remember the other father who was onboard and tragically lost.

(Orange Coast College)

John Altobelli, 56, was an Orange Coast College baseball coach, husband to Keri (who also perished in the crash), and father of three. Altobelli’s daughter, Alyssa, was a teammate of Gianna Bryant and was also lost in the crash.

“There were two sides to John,” Tony Altobelli, John’s brother, said. “People saw him on the baseball field, he’s (a) gritty and tough-as-nails kind of guy, but the other side of him, he was one of the biggest-hearted people you’ll meet in your life. He cared about his players, cared about his school.”

While not carrying the same star power or influence as Kobe, Altobelli was committed to creating positive change in his community.

“It’s hard to put into words what this loss means to the college and the athletics department,” OCC Athletics Director Jason Kehler said.

“John was a tremendous coach and an even better friend. Beyond that, he was an amazing mentor to all of the students and athletes that he taught and coached. He treated them all like family and his impact will live on forever.”

Over the course of his career, “Coach Alto” racked up more than 700 wins and was named ABCA/Diamond National Coach of the Year in 2019 by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA). This would have been his 28th season coaching the Pirates, whom he helped lead to the state championship last year.

The Boston Red Sox posted a statement about the tragedy, emphasizing their mourning of the three members of the Altobelli family. Coach Alto’s son, J.J. Altobelli, is a Red Sox scout.

The Red Sox Foundation has since set up a GoFundMe to raise support for the Altobelli family.


It doesn’t matter if they are consistently in the limelight or making a difference behind the scenes; good fathers help shape the world we live in each and every day. They represent strength, perseverance, and love, and when they are lost, they deserve to be remembered for the amazing influence they brought into the world.

Well done, John. Rest in peace.

In addition to the Altobellis and Bryants, the other passengers lost in the crash included Sarah Chester, a 45-year-old Newport Beach mother of three flying in the helicopter with her 13-year-old daughter, Payton Chester, who also perished; Christina Mauser, a 38-year-old from Huntington Beach who was a coach at Harbor Day School and Bryant’s top assistant coach; and Ara Zobayan, the 50-year-old helicopter pilot who often flew Kobe and was also an instructor.

Walt Jr. Hopes to Follow in His Father’s Footsteps in Breaking Bad Spin-off

Walt Jr. as Drug Kingpin

It’s good to have dreams. Hope is a powerful thing. We all need something to keep us going. For me, it’s the Dolphins someday drafting a franchise quarterback and righting the ship. For you, it might be HBO ponying up to re-do the last season of Game of Thrones, or Disney wiping The Last Jedi from the canon. I don’t judge.

For RJ Mitte, the man who played Walt Jr., aka Flynn, on Breaking Bad, it’s participating in a sequel series to the classic show, in which his third-level character ascends to the lead role.

You gotta have something to believe in!

And believe Mitte does, as he’s actually fleshed out his idea and taken it to Vince Gilligan, the creator of Breaking Bad, its spin-off series Better Call Saul, and the recent Netflix movie El Camino.

In an exclusive interview with The Irish Sun, Mitte laid out his idea for Walt Jr. to front his own show, picking up where his father left off.

“He is his father’s son in a way of his actions and his moralities of what he’s going to do would be right for his family. I think for us it would be a very hard life after what Heisenberg did to his family and I think that stigma would carry,” Mitte explained, before landing the death blow: “But I would like to see Walt Jr. being a gangster.”

RJ’s idea for a sequel to the classic TV series is for his character, Walter White’s breakfast loving son who, like the actor himself, suffers from cerebral palsy (something that was never explored on the show and was merely presented as a fact of Walt Jr.’s life), to follow in his chemistry teacher-turned-meth kingpin father’s footsteps.

It seems unlikely that Gilligan, to whom Mitte has actually pitched this premise, would follow through on this idea. Breaking Bad benefited from a variety of factors, not the least of which was Bryan Cranston’s iconic performance as Walter White, and no offense to RJ Mitte, but I’m not sure he’s of the same caliber.

That said, no one expected Better Call Saul to work either, and that’s coming back for its 5th season next month. So you never know!

Father Figures: A Reminder

“This picture is from 2014. I had lost my job and we were so broke we had to move into a back bedroom at my wife’s grandmother’s house.

I took a job driving a school bus and substitute teaching to get back on my feet. I would wake up at 5:00, commute 30 minutes, drive a morning route, teach all day, drive an afternoon route, and come home. Sarah’s grandmother would always have dinner ready when I came in.

This is my then one-year-old, climbing all over me, trying to get to my chili.

Fast forward to 2020, I work in insurance, we have our own house, own cars, three kids now, and just got back from taking the boys to Chicago for their birthday. We are more blessed than we have ever been.

I keep this pic to remind me how hard those days were, and to keep me from ever being ungrateful for what we have now.”

– Andy Runyan

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email [email protected]

Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

#GirlDad Is Trending After ESPN Anchor’s Emotional Kobe Tribute

#GirlDad is Trending

The sports world was rocked by the tragic death of Kobe Bryant over the weekend, and tributes to the legend and the others on board have been emerging ever since. People have praised Kobe’s curiosity, his competitiveness, the early stages of his second chapter. The Athletic did a beautiful piece on Gigi. Newspapers have chronicled the other victims and their stories.

But one of the most emotional, and widely shared, tributes came from ESPN anchor Elle Duncan.

She described her only meeting with Kobe, which occurred when she was eight months pregnant. Kobe gave her a huge hi-five and gushed when he found out she was having a girl and talked at length about how girls were awesome and how much she’d enjoy it. He told her to be grateful for that gift because “girls were amazing” and “I’m a girl dad.”

Fighting back tears, she recounted how he talked about his daughters and how much he loved them. When it came to sports, he talked about how his oldest was an accomplished volleyball player and the youngest was a toddler, so he wasn’t sure what she’d do. But the middle one, he told her, was a basketball player.

“The middle one, she was a monster, she was a beast,” he told her. “She’s better than me at that age. She’s got it.” That girl, Gigi, also died in the helicopter crash on Sunday.

Duncan tearfully closed by saying the only small measure of comfort for her, reflecting on their meeting, was that Kobe died doing what he loved.

“Being a dad. Being a girl dad.”

It wasn’t long before #girldad was trending on Twitter, as people claimed the mantle or simply shared the moving tribute.

As a #GirlDad myself, it was awesome to see how people responded to her beautiful tribute and made being a great dad a way to honor Kobe’s legacy.

Tweet Roundup: Tributes to the Late Kobe Bryant

Twitter Roundup of Kobe Tributes

When an influential figure dies, a politician or a musician or an actor or an athlete whose career and persona spread far and wide and impacted many people’s lives, the world seems to stop to take a collective breath and honor that person.

This phenomenon was in full effect on Sunday and Monday, once news spread that NBA legend and Lakers great Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash, alongside his 13-year-old daughter and 7 others. Kobe had a larger-than-life persona and was admired, feared, and respected by countless people inside and outside of the NBA and the sporting world in general. His impact on the culture was made apparent by the outpouring of tributes, including during Sunday night’s Grammy awards.

But nowhere is this better represented than on social media, the most effective tool most of us have for sharing our thoughts and reaching thousands upon thousands of people across the globe with our remembrances of the person who has passed on. All over Twitter, people shared their stories about Kobe, what he meant to them, and how he changed their lives.

We’ve gathered a few.

The high school he attended before leaping straight into the NBA:

Former teammates and rivals:

He transcended his sport to impact football players:




Musical artists:



Subway signs:


ESPN obviously has a lot to say, but sometimes fans say it best:

RIP Kobe.

Fortnite Player Livestreams Call to Mom to Say He Paid Her Student Loans

Aydan Conrad Calling Mom

College is expensive, it’s undeniable. According to a 2019 Forbes article, the average borrower from the Class of 2017 owes over $28,000! What would you say, then, if your kid called you and let you know you’re all paid up?

Pro Fortnite streamer Aydan Conrad’s mom doesn’t have to imagine anymore. While streaming on January 23rd, 20-year-old Aydan calls her up live with his followers (numbering over 1.4 million) watching. He tells her he wants to give her the Christmas gift he wasn’t able to give her before, but she says “I don’t need anything, Aydan. You’ve done enough for me.” Aydan just pushes forward, though, and proceeds to let her know she has no more student debt. After the initial shock and disbelief wears off (especially after Aydan dropped the name of, we’re assuming, her contact for loan payments), everyone gets a chance to witness a truly heartfelt moment between mother and son as the two share some happy tears over the phone.

Aydan humbly credits all his viewers for making it possible, saying “It’s not me, it’s all the people that are watching my stream right now”, to which she responds “Aw, I love them… everyone click ‘exclamation point sub’ and ‘exclamation point prime’!” (for those that don’t use Twitch, those are two chat commands viewers can use to support streamers with a paid subscription). Talk about a loving family that supports each other in their life goals!


Last Place Fantasy Football Manager Has to Drive Bright Pink Loser Mobile

Loser-Mobile for Fantasy Football Bet

Nobody really wins their fantasy football league. Even the league champion has to endure four-plus months of agony over draft picks, regret over lineup decisions, frustration at injuries, and irritation at losing to the dude whose kicker scored 17 points.

Everyone suffers.

Of course, some players suffer more than most, often because the league has rules to make sure of that. Some leagues required the last place team to pay for something – the next year’s draft party, the league trophy, etc., some leagues force the loser to get an embarrassing tattoo, and some leagues, like the one Nick Johnson is in, force the loser to drive around in a loser mobile.

A bright pink loser mobile adorned with hearts and unicorns and that literally has ‘I’m a loser” emblazoned on it.

To be specific, it’s a 2020 Toyota Corolla, and Nick seems fine with the deal he struck.

“Typical rules, the winner wins a bunch of cash and a trophy and the loser gets punished and this year this was my punishment,” he told NBC12. “I only won two games, I didn’t really watch any football this year, so that’s kind of how it goes…”

Nick is particularly “lucky” that the winner of his league owns a custom car wrapping business – Chris Breezy Customs in Mamaroneck, NY – that makes his punishment possible. And to add insult to injury, Nick is not only humiliated by his ride, he’s giving the league’s winner – the author of his pain – free advertising!

“I went to the mall the other day and when I came back out my car was surrounded by 20 people,” he says. “Pretty much nonstop pointing and laughing.”

To his credit, he’s taking the punishment like a man, admitting that it’s his own fault for not watching many games and not having a good team.

“I pretty much botched it as worse as I possible could,” Nick concedes. But he has a plan for next season. “I’m gonna pick the best players, maybe a hire a consultant. We’ll see.”

Kobe Was Coaching His Daughter to Be the Family’s Next Basketball Star

Kobe & Gigi Bryant

The world was dealt a tragic blow Sunday when news broke that basketball legend Kobe Bryant had died tragically in a helicopter crash at the age of 41. The news became even more heart-breaking when it was revealed his 13-year-old daughter Gianna also died in the helicopter crash.

They were flying to Gianna’s basketball game, a game that Kobe was going to coach. Gianna (Gigi) was Kobe’s second-eldest daughter and, like her dad, a devoted baller. When people in the basketball world told Kobe it was a shame he didn’t have a son to carry on his legacy in the game, he was quick to correct them and point to Gigi as his heir apparent on the court, something he told Jimmy Kimmel in an appearance on his talk show in 2018.

“The best thing that happens is when we go out and fans would come up to me and she’ll be standing next to me,” Bryant said, “and they’ll be like, ‘You’ve gotta have a boy, you and V gotta have a boy. You gotta have somebody to carry on your tradition, the legacy.”

“She’s like, ‘Oy, I got this,” Bryant said. “I’m like that’s right,” Bryant said. “Yes, you do, you got this.”

Kobe was one of the most high profile WNBA supporters around, partly because of his daughter’s love for the game.

Gigi even showcased some of her dad’s moves on the court.

One of the most shared clips on social media Sunday was a clip of Kobe in the stands with his daughter, as Kobe goes full dad-mode as he breaks down the game to Gigi.

Social media was consumed with tributes for Kobe, from utterly shattered and devastated friends and former teammates, to others in the sports world, teams found different ways to handle the news. Games were played, but every team started their game by taking a 24-second shot clock violation, paying homage to Kobe’s jersey number. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said no Mav would ever wear #24 again, in respect to Bryant.

And while the tributes poured in, the most poignant ones mentioned the bond between the dad and daughter, and the hopes the former had for the latter.

Sunday’s crash rocked the sports world and the devastating tragedy will continue to reverberate around a game Bryant left an indelible mark on. And as the sports world will always hold Bryant up for the shots he made, it will also mourn the shots Gigi will never get to take.


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My Gigi

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Brooklyn Man Registered Beer as His ‘Emotional Support Animal’

Emotional Support Beer
(Twitter/CraftBeerTime/Caroline Ourso)

Brooklyn gets a lot of flak. It’s the land of hipsters with handlebar mustaches selling artisanal pickles who front bands that Pitchfork loves. As someone who lives in Brooklyn, I concede that all of that is true.

But Brooklyn also often sets trends that reverberate throughout the rest of the country, because it’s the land of pioneers. And today we learned of a new pioneer from New York City’s best borough, and here’s hoping his groundbreaking efforts start a movement that benefits us all.

His name if Floyd Hayes, and he lives in the Clinton Hill neighborhood in Brooklyn. But after his recent gambit, where he really lives is in our hearts, and in the annals of legends, because Floyd successfully registered his beer as an emotional support animal.

Floyd told the Brooklyn Paper how he came up with the idea. “It’s a delicious beer and at a reasonable 5% abv, can be consumed without hindering hand-eye coordination, mental ability or judgement. I’ve had trouble trying to take the pint onto public buses and into places of business, so I had the idea to get it registered,” he added.

He reached out to USA Service Dog Registration and applied online.

“I’m not permitted a dog in my building, so I thought an emotional support beer would be more appropriate. It helps alleviate my anxiety and is a cost effective way to manage stress,” he told Ale Street News.

And it worked! Sort of.

An anonymous employee there told Brooklyn Paper that it won’t provide Floyd with many benefits.

“This will not get you into Walmart, it will not get you into Denny’s, it will only protect you where you’re renting,” she said. “He can register his beer all day long, it’s not going to get him anywhere.”

Except straight into our hearts.