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John C McGinley Is Raising Son Max Who Has Down syndrome — inside His Parenting

Pedro Marrero
Jan 31, 2021
12:50 P.M.
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"Scrubs" actor John McGinley embodies what it means to be an advocate and displays what loving and raising his son means to him.


61-year-old John C. McGinley is an actor known for his work in "Scrubs" and the films "Platoon," "Office Space," and "Wall Street" (although his acting credits are more than 100 movies and television shows). He talks about raising a child with Down syndrome.

When the actor and his then-wife Laurent Lambert were expecting their son Max, they avoided doing an amniocentesis due to the risk of miscarriage associated with the test. In it, a needle is inserted to remove fluid from the amniotic sac and detect conditions.

John C. McGinley discussing his movie "The Good Catholic" at Build Studio in New York City, in September 2017. I Image: Getty Images.


In an interview, McGinley explained that at one point after the birth of his son, he had to assume that this was his reality and that his son needed him and it was time to take action.

He said: “We had a blood protein test and sonograms, and what they told us was that our baby was a perfectly healthy girl. Then Max came out, and he was a boy, and his twenty-first chromosome had tripled."



When a baby is born with Down syndrome, it faces a number of health challenges during its early years. The most relevant and scariest for the parents are heart, brain, and digestive problems.

McGinley's son, Max, had no digestive or cardiac complications, avoiding having to undergo open-heart surgery as a baby. What little Max had were sleep apnea and seizures.



To treat these rotating disorders, doctors would use an intense protocol of different medications. They went so far as to over-medicate these children without considering the side effects.

Little Max somehow managed to get through the period of seizures. After age three or four, he became relatively healthy. And there is no time to be scared, there is much to do, and there is no time to waste, said his father.



When Max went through the seizure stage and stopped breathing several times a night (up to 60 times in one night), expectations about which preschool he would go to or what would happen in the next few years become irrelevant.

However, step by step, the actor began to realize that his son had his own rhythm. He grew up in the highest percentile for his age and did well in school with incredible math and reading skills. That kind of thing changed his father's expectations of his child's development.



When McGinley married Nichole Kessler, a yoga instructor/doula, their son Max, who was 9 years old, served as his best man and, by the way, the boy took his responsibilities seriously.

After accompanying Kessler to the altar, Max spent the rest of the ceremony in the limo, watching the DVD of "The Wiggles." But his presence was felt because when his father read his vows, he mentioned Max.



McGinley welcomed his son Max while he played Dr. Cox on the series “Scrubs,” the gruff doctor and J.D's mentor with a predisposition to monologues and brutal insults. Dr. Cox, not so secretly, also had a huge heart underneath all that roughness.

The actor had a secret: he made the commitment to, in each episode, say "I love you" to Max, something quite difficult at times. It was a small act for McGinley's son, which exposed his unconditional love for Max.



The actor wanted more children with his second wife, and they welcomed their first daughter together, Billi Grace, in 2008. Then, in 2010, his second daughter, Kate Aleena, joined the family.

Max, who became an older brother at ten years old, has continued to grow and develop. And his family couldn't be more proud of the young man he has become.



McGinley has always been supportive of his son Max. He says he didn't know what love was until Max was born, and all they have faced together have helped father and son grow.

When Max got a job at Starbucks a few years ago, his father tweeted: “Max Mcginley, interviewed for & got: a job at Starbucks. We manage our expectations? Well, Max just shattered ‘em!”


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