Patrick O'Neal Defends Ryan O'Neal: 'I Love My Dad'

Access Hollywood
Ryan O'Neal, Patrick O'Neal -- Access Hollywood
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Ryan O'Neal, Patrick O'Neal -- Access Hollywood

Last week, a "Today" show panel blasted actor Ryan O'Neal for his parenting and the drug and legal problems three of his children - Tatum, Griffin and Redmond O'Neal - have had.

Today, Ryan's other son, Patrick O'Neal, a FOX Sports sportscaster is coming to his dad's defense.

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"I love my dad. I'm proud of my dad. He was awesome," Patrick told Billy Bush in a new interview for Access Hollywood . "Ryan O'Neal -- he was my hero."

During that "Today" panel, Dr. Nancy Snyderman said, "This was a window into dysfunctionality and sad parenting," while Donnie Deutch said, "These kids are so messed up and that is clearly a guy that should not have had the license to have kids."

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But Patrick couldn't disagree more.

"I thought, you know what? You take my dad's license away, I'm not here, my two beautiful daughters -- Sophia and Veronica are not here," Patrick said. "They love their granddad. It was just disrespectful."

The problems of Ryan's other children are well-documented -- Farrah and Ryan's son Redmond's addiction struggle and the addiction battles of Tatum and Griffin.

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In his new book, "My Life with Farrah," Ryan laid part of the blame on Griffin and Tatum's mother, the late actress Joanna Moore, who also struggled with addiction.

"His legacy is not going to be that he was a bad parent, OK? Because I'm here to say that in my case that is not true," Patrick said.

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And Patrick said his experience was different than Tatum's.

"Tatum wrote a book about how bad everything was," he said. "I could write a book -- it might be pretty boring -- about how awesome my childhood was."

"Give me examples of how dad loved you and was a good father," Billy asked.

"I have a couple of letters here that I kept over the years," Patrick said.

The letters, between father and son, are touching and heartfelt, and Patrick read excerpts out loud.

"'Dear Patrick, you've only been gone two days and you are missed. Redmond wanders around aimlessly calling, 'Pat, Pat.' I told him, 'Pat work,' but he still looks for you. I guess I'll have to do until we get home,'" Patrick read.

"I have kept all of his letters to prove how much love there was between us," the proud son added.

Patrick said that although Ryan and his mother couldn't make it work, his father was always present in his life.

"Him and my mother, Leigh Taylor Young -- she's wonderful - he would pick me up every single weekend. They split up when I was about 4. But then it was, 'Beep! Beep!' and there's the Rolls, jumping in, going to the beach or going to his other house up in Beverly Hills," Patrick recounted.

Patrick also brought along birthday cards Farrah had written, complete with lipstick kisses.

There was also a long letter he sent his dad after Farrah had passed away.

"I said, 'Dear Dad, Farrah was such a special person. Things I remember -- boy, she loved to cook. She was always in that kitchen whipping up something good to eat,'" he read. "'I remember that crazy bathroom she had and that big closet with all those clothes. You had the little closet but you didn't care. Farrah, of course deserved the big closet... I remember hiding in the sauna with Griffin when I was around 10, nearly passing out, and not being able to control my laughing when she walked in naked. Griffin was mad at me, but you weren't, you both thought it was pretty funny.'... [She was the] coolest woman in the world."

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