Country superstar Tim McGraw's relationship with his biological father, baseball player Tug McGraw, recently opened up in Esquire about their sometimes fraught relationship. While McGraw is very present in the lives of his three daughters with his wife Faith Hill, he didn't meet Tug until he was 11 years old. McGraw has only spoken of his relationship with his dad publicly a handful of times.
For Esquire's "What I've Learned" series, McGraw explained how meeting Tug changed the course of his life. "People ask me, 'How could you have a relationship with your father? You were growing up in nothing. He was a millionaire baseball player. He knew you were there, and he didn't do anything,'" McGraw explained. "But when I found out Tug McGraw was my dad, it gave me something in my little town in Louisiana, something that I would have never reached for. How could I ever be angry?"
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McGraw previously opened up about his relationship with his father in an interview with Larry King in 2013. "I didn't know he was my dad," McGraw explained, revealed that he thought his stepfather was his biological dad until that discovery. "I was 11 years old and I was rummaging around in mom's closet and found a birth certificate. I was growing up in Louisiana and my mom was divorced and we were barely getting by. My [last] name was Smith. On my birth certificate, 'McGraw' was scratched out and 'Smith' was written in by hand." McGraw also revealed that his mother had reached out to Tug over the years.
McGraw also opened up about his first meeting with Tug in a 2018 interview with Oprah Winfrey. "I met Tug the first time when I was 11 and it was just a quick sort of lunch and then seeing him play the game," he said. "It certainly wasn't an acknowledgment that he was my father." The following year, he and his mother drove to Houston to see Tug, who played for the Phillies, play against the Astros. "She borrowed a car and we drove to Houston and he was playing at the Astrodome," he remembered. "And he'd left tickets for us 'cause she'd gotten in contact with his lawyer, I think, and his lawyer had said he'll leave tickets for you. We go to the Astrodome, we walk in, and they're warming up and he's down on the field. He always did this thing where a player would hit balls with a Fungo bat and hit it up in the air and he would catch 'em behind his back. So, he was doing that and I started yelling at him and then he wouldn't look at me. So, I spent 30 minutes trying to get this attention and he wouldn't look at me. So, I went and sat back down. And then I never saw him again until I was 18."
However, they did eventually reconcile and have a relationship before Tug died from brain cancer in 2004. "In a lot of ways, that probably was a good driving force for me. You know, knowing that his blood was in me, you know, it inspired me. It did," he told oprah. "Whether he knew it or not or ever thought about it, he gave me something that you could never quantify. He gave me a dream of what I might could become because of who he was. He was my father and what he had done with his life put something in me that I probably would have never had -- I might not have ever had, who knows -- but I certainly think that that was a driving force in me to think that I could become somebody."