About Your Privacy on this Site
Welcome! To bring you the best content on our sites and applications, Meredith partners with third party advertisers to serve digital ads, including personalized digital ads. Those advertisers use tracking technologies to collect information about your activity on our sites and applications and across the Internet and your other apps and devices.
You always have the choice to experience our sites without personalized advertising based on your web browsing activity by visiting the DAA’s Consumer Choice page, the NAI's website, and/or the EU online choices page, from each of your browsers or devices. To avoid personalized advertising based on your mobile app activity, you can install the DAA’s AppChoices app here. You can find much more information about your privacy choices in our privacy policy. Even if you choose not to have your activity tracked by third parties for advertising services, you will still see non-personalized ads on our sites and applications. By clicking continue below and using our sites or applications, you agree that we and our third party advertisers can:
  • transfer your data to the United States or other countries; and
  • process and share your data so that we and third parties may serve you with personalized ads, subject to your choices as described above and in our privacy policy.

Human Interest

Al Roker Opens Up About Raising His Teenage Son with Special Needs: 'I Admire Him'

Posted on

Al Roker has nothing but pride, love, and admiration for his son.

The Today anchorman, who shares 17-year-old son Nicholas with wife and ABC News senior correspondent Deborah Roberts, recently opened up to Guideposts magazine for their May cover story about raising a child with special needs.

In the article, which was published on Thursday, Roker, 64, explained that Nick is “somewhere on the spectrum and maybe obsessive-compulsive” — a condition that has brought a number of challenges for both Nick and his parents.

Despite those difficulties, Roker said Nick never let his developmental delays get in the way of living his life and doing what he loves, which is an attribute of his son’s that Roker has continuously admired over the years.

“Do I get frustrated with my son sometimes? You bet,” Roker wrote. “But then I remember my dad, how understanding he was. And Deborah reminds me that I have to show my son not only that I love him but that I like him as well. More than that, I admire him.”

Deborah Roberts, Nicholas Roker, and Al Roker
Mike Coppola/Getty Images

RELATED: Al Roker Opens Up About Son’s Developmental Delays — and Fears He’d Never Walk or Talk

Roker explained that he and Roberts, 58, knew Nick was different pretty quickly after he was born on July 18, 2002.

“We knew right from the beginning that he would be up against a whole different set of challenges,” Roker recalled. “He wasn’t developing as fast as he should have, not holding our fingers as tightly, not always meeting our gaze, not as quick to crawl. At three, he hardly talked and could barely walk.”

After getting Nick the help he needed from speech, behavioral and occupational therapists, the Today anchor said his son began to flourish into his own person, whose hobbies now include going to church, tae kwon do, swimming, chess, and basketball.

“Nick is a hard worker; he’s got a great sense of humor; he’s outgoing and a good swimmer; he’s developing a pretty good top-of-the-key basketball shot,” Roker said. “He takes chess lessons a couple times a week, and he does okay. He’s also very affectionate — like his grandfather — and full of love to share.”

Nick with Al Roker and Deborah Roberts
Al Roker/Instagram

RELATED: Al Roker Laments About His 15-Year-Old Son’s Recent Growth Spurt: ‘I’m Like a Little Polly Pocket Next to Him’

At church, Roker said the teen has found “his place in this world” by serving on the worship team and carrying the cross down the aisle at the beginning of every Sunday service.

“It’s not something Deborah or I would have expected… Nick is focused, dignified, reverent, the brass cross shimmering in the candlelight,” Roker explained, making reference to his son’s self-proclaimed “churchgoing guy” responsibilities.

“Last year, he went on a mission trip to Haiti with teens from church, helping out at an orphanage, reading to the kids, playing games with them, doing chores,” Roker recalled. “When we picked him up at the airport, the first thing he said in the car was ‘I can’t wait to go back.'”

In tae kwon do — which Roker was initially hesitant to let him participate in — Nick has since become a black belt after the repetitive drills combined with his OCD turned out to be a major strength for him, according to the Today anchor.

“Nick blossomed, far more than Deborah or I could have ever expected, given his original iffy prognosis,” Roker admitted. “Where his OCD nature can be a drawback in some situations, it was a strength here. And he proved to be very competitive.”

Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

RELATED: Al Roker Named Father of the Year

Because of Nick’s drive, involvement, and love for life, Roker said the pride he feels for his son is immeasurable.

“‘You must be proud of your son,’ someone will say. Yes, I am. More than they’ll ever know,” Roker said. “The obstacles in this kid’s way were things that might have tripped up many others. Not Nick, not even with the disabilities he was born with.”

“I can’t begin to take credit for who Nick is and who he might become,” he added. “All sorts of specialists can tell you about limitations for this and that. Nick never got that message.”

Roker and Roberts previously opened up about their son’s developmental delays, telling PEOPLE that they hoped by sharing his story, it would encourage others to be “more open and accepting of people with [similar] challenges.”

“We hope that more people will be open to expressing and maybe sharing that a lot of us are dealing with challenges in life,” Roberts told PEOPLE in March 2018. “There has been a stigma over the years, especially if it’s not an obvious challenge that people know, and I think to be able to share and inspire and to give other people the encouragement, I think that life can be enriched and can be better and can be in some ways richer when you are loving and supporting and dealing with somebody who is dealing with challenges.”

Added Roker, who referenced President Donald Trump: “There’s been a lot of talk about building big, beautiful walls. Well, we have to tear down those walls, tear them down, make them nice.”

In addition to Nick, Roker and Roberts share daughter Leila, 20. Roker also has a daughter Courtney, who was adopted during a previous marriage.

Outbrain

Tags