By peoplestaff225
Updated September 25, 2008 12:30 PM
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Bauer-Griffin

In a Tuesday appearance on The Bonnie Hunt Show, Mekhi Phifer said that because he was raised by a single mom, he considers fatherhood "a privilege." It was his own mom — recently retired school teacher Rhoda Phifer — whom Mekhi credits with laying a foundation which has enabled him to stay on the right track both in life, and as a dad to Omikaye, 9, and Mekhi Thira, 10 months. Family life is "lovely," the 32-year-old ER actor says. "I love kids, outings, camping, sports, Legoland, all the Daddy stuff. I love it. I wish I could just do that, but I have to work too." Even when he is working, however, Mekhi says that family remains the priority.

Omikaye "is great" and taking after his father academically, Mekhi shares, for he excels in math; he also plays tennis, the piano, and is studying foreign languages including Spanish. A "wobbly" Mekhi Thira, on the other hand, is just beginning to crawl and stand up on his own. "He’s a cutie," Mekhi said. Omikaye is Mekhi’s son with ex-wife Malinda Williams. Mekhi Thira is his son with fiancée Oni Souratha.

The 15th — and final — season of ER premieres tonight on NBC.