TODAY   |  November 15, 2013

Tamron Hall: I’m #InspiredBy my stepfather

As part of TODAY’s week-long #InspiredBy series, Tamron Hall explains how the man she used to refer only as “Mr. Newton” became one of the most important figures in her life.

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

>> said. this past week we all shared our stories about the people that inspired us throughout our lives.

>> and tamron shares her story. it hits close to home .

>> that's right. i chose my stepfather, clarence newton senior as my inspiration. the man i fondly call my dad.

>> my journey with my zdad started in a way people can identify with or understand. my parents divorced and like so many other kids all i could think about was my parents getting back together. that didn't happen. my mom introduced me to the person that she loved and we knew him interestingly enough because he was our landlord and i knew this person as mr. newton . i was r he was entderring a home where this kid was a hand full. one day i called home. i was 16 or 17 at the time. i called him mr. newton from age seven and he answered the phone and i said hey, dad, is mom home.

>> one day tamron said dad and i said yes.

>> i don't know where it came from or what prompted it, but he was my dad at that moment and forever.

>> from what family members in --

>> i think that when i got my first job in tv in brian, texas, i was surprised but he wasn't surprised. you expect your mom to root for you and to believe in you, but my stepfather, he didn't have to.

>> this is from my daughter tamron .

>> yet he saw me as his. my parents have a huge age gap . 20 years between my mom and dad and we would talk about segregation and his perception of the world from the military. he would always say to me i was on the battlefield with guys from alabama, mississippi, and we were fighting together. he always loved the military for that reason. every home we've lived in has had an american flag right out front. that's something we learned from my father. that flag should fly and you should look at it and you should think about all the blessings that we have.

>> good morning, everyone. we begin with a difficult start to the holiday rush --

>> i had just started in d.c. when my dad got sick. he was in the hospital and he said he was sleeping and he heard my voice on the tv. he was so happy to see me. i got a phone call from a nurse saying hurry up he wants to say good-bye. and i jumped in the car and drove to the hospital and i watched the man who started out as mr. newton and who turned into my dad leave this planet but what he has left me with and what he has inspired me to do and what he has given me confidence to do will never leave me.

>> in the hospital he said tamron , i want you to take care of your brother and his children.

>> my dad fell in love with those kids. particularly my nephew isaiah. and even now it feels good to be able to be there with isaiah and be there with my mom and my sister-in-law and my nieces and my brothers cheering him on as a family because if my dad were alive, that's exactly what he would be doing. i think i would want people to understand from my life that sometimes things happen that we don't want. divorce. no one wants that. it's easy to feel like life has shortchanged us somehow but i don't look at life that way at all. you never know what's around the corner and for me it was a great dad. so my dad inspired many things and after he passed away , his passing inspired me to cook. he loved to cook. the one thing i regret i never paid attention because i was always eating but in honor of my dad, guys, i spent all night making his famous sweet potato pie . i made these pies. i don't know how they taste. dad, please. so i wanted to share a little clarence newton soul food as we approach the holidays.

>> that's good.

>> there's a recipe. it involves a lot of tasting.

>> it's a winner.

>> do you like it.

>> nailed it.

>> well, that's what i did and one more thing, my dad of course inspired us to always open our homes and we did -- my mom would love this. it's a gift i gave my mom when my dad passed away . here he is. our dog with our family. we opened our family again and he rules the roost.

>> he's not doing what the other dogs did today?

>> mom has him well trained.

>> what a beautiful man your father was.

>> he was a great dad.

>> thank you for sharing that story.

>> thank you for the opportunity.

>> lester is here with this beautiful pie there.

>> yes.

>> a look at weekend today .

>> well, no pie. erica is going to introduce us to two parents that turned their grief over the loss of their son into a way to help others all over the world.

>> my inspiration story is about a single dad who after learning he had terminal cancer came up with an amazing way to spend as much time as possible with his 6-year-old daughter. they go running. marathons.

>> wow.

>> both families are incredible and we're happy to be able to share them with you.

>> amazing. it's been a great week of story.

>> it has been. this was a case of someone i met only a day before i found out about this series.

>> wow.

>> and they came to me and i said i just met that person yet.

>> isn't that so powerful that you can meet someone --