‘Today’ host Craig Melvin discusses how ‘The Cosby Show’ modeled an ideal Black family amid estrangement with father


NBC News’s Craig Melvin opens up about his sophisticated relationship with his father within the new e book “Pops.” (Photo: Getty Images)

Craig Melvin has coated many difficult tales in his profession, however Bill Cosby’s downfall is one he calls “extraordinarily difficult.” 

In his new e book, Pops: Learning to be a Son and a Father, the 42-year-old Today present co-host candidly particulars his relationship with his alcoholic, absentee dad, Lawrence Melvin, and their street to reconciliation. Growing up, Craig was compelled to search for position fashions elsewhere and he discovered one on The Cosby Show, calling the comic’s character a surrogate father.  

“For a lot of us, it was the first time we’d seen a Black family where mom and dad were both professionals, they had a healthy relationship and they were super-parents,” Craig explains to Yahoo Entertainment. “Jazz, art and social consciousness were all these things explored on this show. It was this celebration of Blackness every week. It really is hard to overstate how important that was for kids like me who lacked a father figure. But every week you could turn on the TV and it’s like, ‘Maybe my dad isn’t what I want him to be, but wow, look at Dr. Huxtable. I could be Dr. Huxtable when I grew up.'” 

In 2014, Cosby went from “America’s Dad” to alleged predator with sixty girls accusing him of rape, drug-facilitated sexual assault or different misconduct. He was convicted of sexual assault in 2018 and stays behind bars.

“Covering the allegations and then going to Pennsylvania to cover the actual trial, it was hard. It was hard because it was as if part of my childhood was on trial as well,” Craig shares, recalling how he met his position mannequin years prior. 

“I had done one or two stories before the allegations that gave me an opportunity to interview Bill Cosby,” he says. “It was a professional dream come true. I think in the book I did a decent job of trying to capture the importance of Cosby’s character — it’s important to make that distinction — but the role that his character played not just for me, but Black kids all over America in the late eighties and early nineties, we longed to be a Cosby kid.”

In the e book, Craig writes how his dad — whom his buddies referred to as “Ghost” — wasn’t round for him or his brothers. Lawrence labored the graveyard shift at a postal facility, so when he wasn’t working, he was both sleeping — or ingesting. Craig’s distant relationship with his father in the end nudged him into the sphere of journalism.

“My dad was such an enigma to me for most of my life and I couldn’t figure him out. I didn’t really know where I stood with him for a good portion of my life,” he explains. “I became a naturally inquisitive person. I became very curious about my dad and our family. I think that it helped develop an empathy that a good journalist has. I try desperately not to judge. You don’t know what mountain someone’s climbing that day, much less in life in general. You don’t know what people are going through to get where they are. I generally give people the benefit of the doubt, whether they deserve it or not. I think that’s served me well professionally.”

It’s served him properly in his private life, too. Craig reconnected with his father as soon as Lawrence lastly received sober and the 2 are making up for misplaced time. Lawrence is now “PopPop” to the broadcaster’s two kids, Del, 7, and Sibby, 4, displaying up for soccer video games and family dinners. 

Craig admits he is a bit “nervous” about his Today present colleagues studying extra about his family historical past — “I’m not really an open book. I don’t really spend a lot of time talking about myself” — he hopes his story might help others on the market.

“Anyone who has an estranged family member or anyone who’s had a loved one struggle with an addiction… it’s for those folks, but it’s a book for children and parents,” he says. “We all have, dare I say, complicated relationships with our parents and with our children to a certain extent, especially as the children get older. For me, it was important to discover the origins of my father’s complexity. As I talked to my dad and found out more about how he grew up and how he interacted with his own father or didn’t interact with him more accurately, it helped me understand him exponentially more.”

Pops: Learning to be a Son and a Father is obtainable now.

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