TODAY

TODAY   |  June 14, 2013

Man meets dad at 29 thanks to Facebook

For 29 long years, Terrell Starr had no dad to celebrate Father’s Day with, but one day that all changed thanks to a series of Facebook messages, one of which reached the father who never knew he existed. TODAY’s Willie Geist reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> share what is a really great heartwarming father's day story about one son determined to find the father he never knew.

>> he never had a dad to celebrate with but one day all of that changed with a simple trip to his computer.

>> when terrell star thinks about his childhood on detroit's west side , he wonders sometimes how he got out alive.

>> i had to deal with gangs and fight my way to school. that's what hi to do.

>> surrounded by violence and drugs he had only his grandmother to look after him.

>> i would come back to the house with cuts on my cheek from fighting and she would simply say did you get your shots in and i said yeah, no problem.

>> reporter: his mom was out of the picture in the military and his dad never even knew terrell existed. did you think about who you dad would be? did you think about him a lot?

>> i did. i often wondered when things were really tough if he knew i was here, would he come and get me.

>> reporter: by the time his mom found out she was pregnant chris had already left the military base and she was never able to track him down.

>> you know, i'm not a guy that has children and don't take care of them. shoot, i mean, had i known he was my child he would have been right there.

>> all of that time, the son chris didn't know about was shining. terrell went to college, earned two master's degrees and a fullbright scholarship to study in the yukrain. it was there he decided to see if the father he knew by name was on facebook.

>> why don't i type it in in the search box .

>> reporter: he sent out messages with the subject looking for father.

>> i didn't believe anyone would reply. i was so used to being without him i thought i would live the remaining years of my life without knowing.

>> you accepted that.

>> a long time ago.

>> reporter: but nearly 5,000 miles away in the bronx new york, chris that just bought his first computer two weeks before got the message.

>> when i saw the picture, oh, yeah.

>> you knew.

>> we don't have to go to maury.

>> reporter: now connected online they began to catch up with all the last time over skype. two years later they met in person in new york. terrell was struggling to find work at the time so chris took him in.

>> i didn't think i needed a father when i was younger but i needed one when i was 31 years old when i felt like i was completely prepared for the world and life had a different plan.

>> was that a difficult decision for you chris to open your house to someone who was a complete stranger at the age of 29.

>> no because i knew he was mine.

>> terrell is on his own now but they still talk every day after three decades apart.

>> we can drink beer together. we couldn't have done that if i was 14. i don't know depending on what type of man he was in the day maybe we would have but i love it. he came at the perfect time in my life.

>> they're really funny together. you sit in a room with them and they're more like brothers. they're giving each other grief and going back and forth and it's something that wouldn't have been possible without social media .

>> social media . brought them together. they look exactly alike.

>> you can see it right there. we always want you to share your stories with us. be sure to like today on facebook where you can join our conversation.