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The words athlete and role model are drifting further and
further apart.
--Andrew Thompson, Richmond


Bravo on your special report on athletes fathering
out-of-wedlock children (Paternity Ward, May 4). You covered a
complicated, sensitive issue with fairness and impressive
detail. We implicitly condone this behavior when we and our kids
care more about what goes on in the NBA and the NFL than what
goes on in Congress, our schools and our communities. We
perpetuate this behavior when our kids grow up thinking that
fame and fortune constitute the ultimate definition of success.
THOMAS J. MOORE, Reading, Pa.

Seven children by six women? Did Shawn Kemp have an incentive
clause in his contract?
GUY LUCAS, Willard, Ohio

It's amazing that, in the wake of the bomb that Magic Johnson
dropped seven years ago, these guys are willing to risk their
lives by living the Lothario life. The bloated egos and "I can
do what I want" attitude of some athletes are what our kids
don't need to be imitating.
J.T. MEYRING, Anchorage

As a 14-year-old boy who loves sports, searching for good role
models is not an easy task. I have a mental list of players whom
I admire. After the drug-, rape- and alcohol-related arrests,
the list is short, but your article made it even shorter. If you
find evidence to write damaging reports about John Elway and
Karl Malone, my list will be extinct.
AARON ROGGENSACK, Grand Junction, Colo.

A monthly award of $8,850 in addition to a nanny does not make
me feel sorry for Laura Tate. She'll be living well above the
means of most Americans. Having a baby with an athlete means
more than child support. It often means hitting the jackpot.
Moreover, it took more than Larry Johnson to have that baby.

The women in these situations are just as much at fault, but
they don't have the luxury of running away from their problems
as the men do.

One can only hope that these paragons of parenthood will get hit
where it hurts the most, in their endorsements.
RUSSELL K. CARDWELL, Summerville, S.C.

These athletes seem to think that providing financial support is
enough. It is not. Children need father figures to nurture them.
MARK ANDERS, Pine Bluff, Ark.

As a family law attorney who has represented more than one of
the unwed mothers of the sadly numerous children of athletes in
your article, I can attest to the fact that generally, with the
vigilance of the courts, these wealthy and irresponsible young
men pay their fair share of support. I can also attest to the
fact that other parental responsibilities, like visitation, are
seldom met. These kids essentially grow up fatherless.
JAMES P. CUNNINGHAM, Birmingham, Mich.

Shame on you for putting Khalid Minor on your cover. Not only
does he have to grow up without having his father around, but
he'll also be branded as the poster child for illegitimate

My opinion of Larry Bird, heretofore very high, plummeted when I
read that he ignored his daughter for two decades, despite
knowing of her strong desire to have a relationship with him.
RANDALL SCHAU, Portage, Mich.

Bird fathered his first child during a failed reconciliation
with his first wife after their divorce. Such circumstances are
worlds removed from the degeneracy of the other athletes in your
ANDREW A. MCALEER, Greenwich, Conn.

Many of these players were themselves born out of wedlock or
abandoned by their fathers early in life. Larry Johnson was
raised without a father, as was Shawn Kemp. Larry Bird's father
was an alcoholic who committed suicide when Bird was a teenager.
This is not meant as an excuse but as a reminder of how much
more education is needed to prevent men like these from
perpetuating the absent-father cycle.

COLOR PHOTO: DONNA FERRATO [Greg Minor Jr. holding photographs of Greg Minor and of his family]


I think the saddest picture was of the three proof-of-paternity
certificates displayed as prized possessions in Celeste Rowan's
home next to pictures of Greg Minor's children. (The middle
child, Greg Jr., is shown above, holding photos in which his
father appears.)
DENNIS THOMPSON, Wellington, Fla.