Aveion Cason Sr. is a former NFL running back who spent nine seasons playing with the pros. Despite the rarity of his football success, Cason grew up experiencing a much more common epidemic faced by boys across the nation: He is a fatherless son. Yet when Cason had a son of his own, Aveion Jr., the former NFL player was absent in his child's life as well, continuing the fatherless-son cycle.
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Though Cason, whose NFL teams included the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys, recently reentered Aveion Jr.'s life, both still harbor strong emotions about growing up fatherless, something they open up about on "Oprah's Lifeclass" with Iyanla Vanzant.
"I grew up without a father," Cason says. "I feel resentment with my father coming up because he's never been around, and when I talk to my son, I feel like he feels the same way."
As tears roll down the boy's face, Iyanla walks over to encourage Aveion Jr. to share his feelings directly, in his own words. Aveion Jr. tells Iyanla that he hadn't seen his father since he was about 4 years old. Now 13, he spent those near-10 years feeling abandoned and insecure.
"I think I was a mistake," Aveion Jr. says quietly.
"And what did you feel about [Cason] when he wasn't there?" Iyanla asks Aveion Jr.
"I didn't have a father," he replies.
Iyanla then instructs Aveion Jr. to speak directly to his father. "Look at him," she tells the boy. "Tell him how it felt."
"It felt horrible that you left me," Aveion Jr. says to Cason. "It made me feel like I was a mistake... I loved the person, but I never see him."
"And that made you feel what?" Iyanla asks.
"Like I wasn't supposed to be here," Aveion Jr. says.
Now that Cason has returned to Aveion Jr.'s life, Iyanla asks another question. "What do you want to tell [your father] now that he's back?"
"That I love him... That I want him to be here," Aveion Jr. says, before looking at his dad. "You don't get to leave me again."
The conversation about fatherless sons continues on "Oprah's Lifeclass," airing Sunday, July 7, at 9 p.m. ET on OWN. Then, on July 14 and 21, Iyanla and Oprah address the issue of daddyless daughters.