The late Steve Irwin wasn't only a great father, husband and environmental conservationist, he was also a terrific son, judging by a newly unearthed letter he wrote to his parents at age 32.
The Australian "Crocodile Hunter" star penned the note to his mother, Lyn, and father, Bob, to express his gratitude for their love and moral guidance.
"Probably one of the most unfortunate things in a ‘Bloke’s Life’ is that it takes over 30 years to realise how essential you have been to build my character, my ethics and, most importantly, my HAPPINESS,” Irwin began the note.
“At 32, I am finally starting to figure it out. In good times and in bad, you were there. Your strength and endurance to raise me will not go unrewarded. My love for you is my strength!" he wrote.
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“For the rest of my life I will reflect on the unbelievably GREAT times we’ve shared and will continue to share."
"You’re my best friends!” concluded Irwin, who left behind his wife and fellow wildlife expert, Terri, and their two young children, daughter, Bindi, now 18, and son, Robert, now 12, when he died after a stingray attacked him in 2006.
The poignant letter appears in "The Last Crocodile Hunter: A Father and Son Legacy," a new memoir written by Irwin's father, also a prominent conservationist, on the tenth anniversary of his son's death. The senior Irwin, 77, said he discovered the letter, tucked inside an envelope, while researching his book.
On the envelope his late son wrote, "Please be happy to know that your strength and wisdom have been passed on.”
The same sentiment was expressed last year by Bindi in an Instagram post honoring Steve Irwin Day in Australia.
The teen, who's begun her own career in nature conservation, called her late father "the greatest Dad on earth"
"We miss you so much," she wrote, "and are extremely proud to be carrying on in your footsteps."