The True Story Behind The Saddest Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Scene

Fresh-Prince-of-Bel-Air-JordanV3This scene addressed one of the issues affecting million of Americans even today “absentee fathers.” Its been 20 years since our sitcom line up was Fresh Prince Bel-Air, The Cosby’s, Living Single and A Different World. These shows gave us an opportunity to see ourselves, identify with situations that were affecting us , and ultimately learn a positive lesson

In the episode, Will’s absentee father Lou (played by Broadway legend Ben Vereen) returns after a 14-years to spend time with his son. The Banks,  see through Lou’s lies, but Will can’t; he’s so excited to be with his dad that he drops his guard. But true to form the day came when his father decided that his own needs were more important than the needs of son.

Will Smith’s character was supposed to brush it off and move on after his father left. But instead he broke down and asked the question most motherless and fatherless children have asked themselves. “Why doesn’t he want me?”  The reality is parents are people who are trying to figure this life thing out too and we all have our own demons and battles to fight. We just have to find a way to love ourselves and accept who you are, including all of the hurting pieces.

Will Smith Interview

I told my parents I wanted to rap. They said, ‘Rap?’ My mother graduated from Carnegie Mellon. She thought college was the only way. My father could kind of see doing something differently. We agreed that I would take a year making music, and if it did not work out, I would go to college. That year we won the first Grammy given to a rap artist.


Smith: “My father was in the military, so everything was really regimented.”


RD: Was he a taskmaster?


Smith: “Oh, yeah, he was very serious about things being a certain way. When my father got out of the Air Force, he started his own refrigeration business. I might have been 12 and my brother 9 when one day he decided he wanted a new front wall at his shop. He tore the old one down — it was probably 16 feet high and 40 feet long. And he told us that this was going to be our gig over the summer. We were standing there thinking, There will never, ever, be a wall here again.


We went brick by brick for the entire summer and into winter and then back into spring. One day there was a wall there again. I know my dad had been planning this for a long time. He said, ‘Now, don’t you all ever tell me there’s something you can’t do.’ And he walked into the shop. The thing I connect to is: I do not have to build a perfect wall today.


I just have to lay a perfect brick. Just lay one brick, dude.


Thank you to the 90’s

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CampusLATELY features national content on Campus Life, Style, College News, Entertainment, Relationships, Health & Fitness, and Career Development, written entirely by top college journalists from 30+ college/universities nationwide.


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