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Will Smith Could Not Forgive His Dad until His Last Days as He Wished He Could Avenge His Mom for Many Years

Junie Sihlangu
May 17, 2022
01:00 P.M.
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Will Smith had a complex relationship with his father, especially after the parent lifted his hand against the actor's mother. The star wanted revenge and only made peace with his parent when it was too late.

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In Will Smith's book, "Will," the "Men in Black" actor opened up about his relationship with his father. The man named Willard Carroll Smith was described as his famous son's hero.

Unlike other people, instead of calling Willard "dad," "daddy," or maybe even "father," the parent's children called him "Daddio." Will revealed how brilliant his father was and that he grew up worshipping him.

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However, besides worshipping his parent, Will was also "terrified" by Willard. The actor described his father as one of the "greatest blessings" in his life and one of his most significant sources of pain.

Will revealed that his father was quite strict. Willard didn't believe in small and ordinary things, which meant cleaning, getting groceries, and scrubbing the floor weren't regular tasks but some sort of tests and missions.

Willard Carroll Smith on an episode where Will Smith was talking about fatherhood for Father's Day on June 21, 2020, on the Red Table Talk. | Source: Facebook/Red Table Talk

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They were done to prove one could follow orders, complete tasks with perfection, and show self-discipline. One of Willard's favorite sayings was "ninety-nine percent is the same as zero."

Will's father believed a mission had to be repeated until perfect. Failing to follow commands led to a court-martial, and Willard punished his children by beating them, with the actor noting:

“In Daddio's mind, everything was life or death.”

Willard and Will Smith at the Tree of Life Awards on March 23, 2002, in Beverly Hills, California. | Source: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

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The parent saw the world as brutal and chaotic and wanted to prepare his children to thrive in it. The star also confessed that his father tormented him and was one of the most remarkable men he ever knew.

Showing the two sides to his father, Will revealed how Willard was violent but still managed to attend all recitals, games, and plays. The man was an alcoholic, but he made sure to be sober whenever he attended Will's movie premieres.

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Willard also listened to each one of his son's music records and visited all his studios. Even though it was strenuous growing up in that household, the actor still had a father who was able to provide for them.

His father never abandoned his parenting post but never learned how to deal with his demons. However, he instilled in Will the capability and tools to confront his demons.

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In 2020, Will and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, sat down for an open conversation on her "Red Table Talk" Facebook Watch platform. During that interview, Will revealed that his father was military-like in his approach.

Coming from an Air Force background, Willard was a firm disciplinarian. The parent demanded order from his family, and he was a compelling role model and a "psychological force."

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Will's father wanted to "discipline natural reactions into your mind" so his children wouldn't think about it when things got tough. Willard sent his son to Mr. Bryant's store to buy him cigarettes one time.

However, the story didn't have his father's brand, Tareyton 100s, wasn't available, and Bryant told Will to inform Willard that he'd hold a carton for him when they came the next day. Will started walking back home and came across his friends playing.

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The star got distracted as he joined in the fun. However, as he was enjoying himself, he turned back and saw his father without a shirt on walking up the middle of the street and freaked out before rambling Bryant's message to Willard, who responded:

“When I send you to do something, there are two possibilities: one - you complete the mission, or two - you’re dead.”

Will Smith at the "The Next Ten Years In The Fight Against Human Trafficking: Attacking The Problem With The Right Tools" Committee Hearing on July 17, 2012, in Washington, DC. | Source: Paul Morigi/WireImage/Getty Images

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His father told him that if he didn't come back home, that was his cue to grab a weapon and attack because nothing could keep Will from finishing his mission. The actor's upbringing led him to be a very disciplined man today.

Will shared how his father never separated anything from "man training," for example, eating dinner was the same as a war to Willard. His upbringing made him want to do better than his father.

THE INCIDENT THAT CHANGED THINGS FOR WILL

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Will revealed how he'd wanted to be a father from the age of six because he loved how his family was, but the "critical deficiencies" in Willard's parenting were what he wanted to correct. However, the person who suffered the most from Willard's military ways was Will's mother.

The problem lay in the fact that Will's mother couldn't be commanded. She was stubborn, educated, and refused to keep quiet no matter how much the star begged her.

Carolyn and Will Smith at the premiere of the movie "Lakeview Terrace" on September 15, 2008. | Source: Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive/Getty Images

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However, things changed for the Academy Award-winning star when an incident occurred before he turned 10. Speaking to CBS News in March 2022, Will revealed how he saw his father lifting a hand to his mother in the bedroom.

The impact led her to collapse, and that moment defined who Will would become. The actor blamed himself for not being able to keep his father satisfied, protect his mother, keep the family happy and stable, and make everything right.

Carolyn and Will Smith at a game at Wachovia Center on March 16, 2012, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. | Source: Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images

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He'd spent his childhood scared, but that incident was the first time he became aware of his own "inaction." Being the oldest sibling and less than ten yards and not helping his mother left him feeling guilty.

At age 10, Will looked at his father and thought he could be a better parent than him because Willard had a temper and he was softer. The actor's spirit got hurt by growing up in an aggressive background.

STRUGGLING WITH FORGIVENESS AND LOSING HIS FATHER

Willard Carroll Smith on an episode where Will Smith was talking about fatherhood for Father's Day on June 21, 2020, on the Red Table Talk. | Source: Facebook/Red Table Talk

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In everything Will did later on in life, like his awards, being in the spotlight, and the funny roles he played, he was subtly apologizing to his mother for his inaction as a child. Decades later, the star's anger resurfaced from that incident while taking care of his father, who fought cancer.

He'd always felt that he'd avenge his mother since that incident. Will even once paused at the top of his stairs with his father and thought he could send the parent cascading down and would get away with it because no one would believe he'd kill Willard purposefully.

Willard Smith, Jaden Smith, and Will Smith at the Mann Village Theater in Westwood, California, on July 7, 2004. | Source: Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images

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The actor thought he could act out of jail time but changed his mind. When his anger receded, Will wheeled the parent to the bathroom and thanked God people were judged by their actions and not their inner turmoils.

The "King Richard" star only made peace with his father in 2016 when Willard was dying. In the last moments of his father's life, Will forgave him and realized that he was also able to forgive himself, with him noting:

"My father dying started a new phase of my life."

BECOMING A FATHER - WHAT WILL DID DIFFERENTLY

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Will was 24 when he welcomed his first child, son Trey. When he had to take the child and his mother, Sheree, back home after the birth, that was the first time he felt the weight of becoming a parent.

That first day home left Will experiencing "stark terror" as his son lay in a bassinet and his first wife slept. He freaked out as he realized he was entirely responsible for Trey's life, and the star couldn't stop checking in on his boy.

Will Smith and his family arrive at the premiere showing of his new movie ''Wild Wild West'' on June 28, 1999, in Westwood, California. | Source: Dan Callister/Online USA Inc/Getty Images

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Will also cried a lot as he feared he couldn't raise a child because he wasn't qualified for it. However, the "Hancock" actor managed to parent the boy and later had two more children, Willow and Jaden, with Jada.

One of the things he made sure of was not to beat his children as a life lesson. He'd learned that everything was a learning opportunity and that all things had to be done well, meaning good grades weren't above cleaning the kitchen.

Will and Jaden Smith during "The Pursuit of Happyness" Paris premiere in Paris, France on January 10, 2007. | Source: Toni Anne Barson/WireImage/Getty Images

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Will believed in excelling no matter what was being done that all lessons to be taught were everywhere, and contribution was vital. The star also instilled giving in his children.

The concept was that if God already designed the seed as it should be, the gardener's job was to create an environment where it could fulfill itself.

Will's father showed him many things he wanted to do and those he'd never inflict on his children. He felt his superpower as a father was preaching and teaching.

Will Smith and Willard Christopher Smith III pose backstage during the 16th Latin Grammy Awards on November 19, 2015, in Las Vegas, Nevada. | Source: C Flanigan/Getty Images

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With Willow, Will learned there was more value in talking to her about how she felt in situations instead of how to fix them. It became a new thought process for him because Willard never cared about Will's feelings.

When it came to Jaden, while he filmed "After Earth" with his father, Will decided not to push or pound on his son. He chose to approach that situation as a loving father.

Will and Jaden Smith at the MTV Movie Awards on June 1, 2008, in Universal City, California. | Source: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Getty Images

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He learned another life lesson in his fatherhood journey that his children didn't belong to him. Will realized that his offspring were their people, and he completely let go of his needs and desires for their lives.

The star turned to the fathering concept he called the "gardener-flower." The idea was that if God had already designed the seed as it should be, the gardener's job was to create an environment where it could fulfill itself.

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He realized his job was to provide support and nourishment. Will noted how arrogant it was to preconceive what the seed was meant to be, and he let go of what he wanted his children to become.

He had to learn to allow his children to lead the way and felt that was all he could do for his children because they had to figure life out for themselves. "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" actor believed his suffering made him the man he was today.

Will thanked God for his upbringing because it helped him build the family and life he wanted to have today. It also helped him find the truth that he based his life on.

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