Will Smith came onto everyone’s radar in a big way thanks to his starring ‘90s role in the hit sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. It was a role that earned him respect in the entertainment industry and the admiration of countless fans. Smith was a fresh-faced star, with an undeniable cool factor, which made it impossible not to pay attention to him, but the ‘90s was also the decade in which he became a dad — and no, Jaden Smith is not his first born child.
Smith is a father to three children, Jaden and Willow, whom he shares with his current wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, and a son, Trey, whom he had during his first marriage to Sheree Zampino. His work has evolved over the years, as has his style (although he’s always been a snappy dresser, and those head-to-toe leopard-print outfits are hard to forget), but the one thing that has stayed the same with regards to Smith is that he remains the hilarious and talented actor he always was. Below are 20 pictures of Will Smith, both before and after he became a dad (and may we say, the years have been kind to him because he’s aged very, very well).
20 Will Smith Has Always Been A Snappy Dresser
Will Smith is one of those celebrities who exudes confidence and he's also super cool, and this is often expressed with his choice of clothing. Of course, Smith’s style has evolved over the years, and it's a bit more muted than it was in the early ‘90s, during his The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air days (but then again, the ‘90s was a time of bold prints, tiny bags, and OTT accessories).
Smith has always been a bit of an authority on all things fashion and style related, and in 2019, he even decided to create a Fresh Prince line of merchandise, Esquire notes.
19 In His ‘Fresh Prince’ Days, He Acted In A Memorable Fatherhood Scene
There’s a particularly memorable, but also emotional, scene from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, that many people refer to as the father scene. It happened in the episode, Papa's Got a Brand New Excuse (Season 4, Episode 24), and according to E! News, what happened was this: Will Smith’s father, who had not been present in his life for 14 years, turned up and started to make up for lost time. Father and son were bonding and getting along, but Uncle Phil was worried that Smith would be left hurt if his father decided to leave, again.
It turns out Uncle Phil was right, and Smith’s dad did bail again. While Uncle Phil tried to get Smith to talk to him, he kept insisting he was fine, before finally breaking down. "How come he don't want me, man?" he questioned, in one of the most unforgettable TV moments.
18 Will Smith Became A Dad In 1992 (But No, His First Child Was Not Jaden)
Will Smith came onto everyone’s radar in a big way thanks to his starring role in the popular series, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The first episode aired in 1990, and two years later, Smith became a father for the first time, with the birth of his son, Trey.
Many fans wrongly assume that Smith only has two children, Jaden and Willow, with his current wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, but he was was married before to Sheree Zampino. Smith has spoken about his relationship with his first-born, admitting that in the past he and his son struggled because he felt as though his dad had “abandoned” him after the divorce, USA Today reports.
17 Jada Pinkett Has Praised Her Husband For Being A Great Father...
Will and Jada Pinkett Smith have been married since 1997, meaning their relationship has lasted for more than 20 years. This is impressive for any couple, but even more so for Hollywood couples, who do not tend to have the best track record when it comes to lasting romances.
Together, the couple raises their two children (and Jada has a whole lot of love for Smith’s son, Trey) and although they are unconventional parents, they are also exceptionally loving ones. Jada praised her husband for his skills as a parent, specifically with their daughter, Willow, telling Essence, “It’s a very interesting relationship to watch and to see how her confidence is really steeped in the idea that she’s got this beautiful, strong man as her father. In [Willow’s] eyes, it’s like the world is at my fingertips because I’ve got daddy.”
16 ...But He’s Also Not A Traditional One
Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, have made headlines on multiple occasions for their unique approach to parenting. While some have praised their skills as parents, others have criticized the couple for giving their children too much freedom. But the one thing that both sides will agree on, is that this couple is definitely not traditional.
This is something that they freely admit, and Jada told Essence it’s what has made her husband such a fantastic parent. “What makes Will the best father in the world to me is that he’s there, not just there in a way that’s traditional,” she said. “The emotional support he offers his children is immeasurable.”
15 This Bunch Are Super Close And Spend A Lot Of Quality Time Together
Jada Pinkett Smith feels that Will Smith is the greatest father in the world, and she also told Essence that the relationship he has with his daughter “brings tears” to her eyes every time because she feels that "every little girl in the world deserves that.” But Smith is close to all of his children, and spending quality time with his family is important.
This family has been photographed together, as a family unit, many times, and it seems that they actually like spending time together. Smith has also shared photos of himself and his children, including attending Coachella with Willow, spending the holidays together, and getting in some quality time with his sons.
14 The Greatest Gift Will Smith Can Give His Kids Is Their Freedom
Jaden and Willow Smith have their own unique styles, interesting (albeit sometimes controversial) ideas on the world, and in every sense of the word, they are individuals. This is something that their father has encouraged from when they were small, by giving his offspring the freedom they needed to determine who they are.
"I feel that the greatest gift that I can give my children is the freedom to be who they are,” he said, according to Insider. “Jada and I are very serious about finding what they are, and encouraging them to be what they are because you can never be happy being what you're not. As a parent, if it's an oak tree, I want it to grow as an oak tree. I'm not going to try to force it to be an apple tree."
13 Being A Dad Is Just A Case Of Trying And Then Hoping For The Best
There are some days when being a parent is a truly rewarding experience, there are other days when this is not the case. It’s a journey that is filled with ups and downs, and Will Smith realizes that as a dad, he can’t always get it right. But he can try and then hope for the best.
On an appearance of Good Morning America (via Daily Mail), Smith admitted that when it comes to fatherhood, he doesn't have all the answers. “It's like — parenting is hit or miss. And it's experimental," he said. "So for me, it's a deep uncertainty, that I carry around, with my kids. I just try to teach them everything that I know and love them as hard as I can love them. And hope for the best."
12 Will Smith Rubs Shoulders With Many Famous Friends
Will Smith has made many memorable films, and he is respected in the entertainment industry for all that he has achieved. So, perhaps considering that he has been famous for more than 20 years, it would be weird if he didn’t have a circle of celebrity friends, and among those people is Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton.
Smith shared this photo of the two of them together in November 2018. In the caption, he mentioned how he was “Hangin’ wit’ my boy,” for his last race of the season. He also joked that since he had the gear, it was time Mercedes also gave him a car to race.
11 He Has So Much Fun With His Kids On Easter (One Way To Stay Young Is By Remaining Young At Heart)
If you want someone to make you smile, chances are, Will Smith is going to be that person. Over the years he has proven his comedic abilities and is loved by so many because of the humorous and relatable roles he has taken on.
But he likes to have fun in real life too, and he appears to be one of the coolest dads around, at least, when it comes to Easter — because how many dads do you know who would dress up as a giant pink bunny and go on an egg hunt? He actually looks to be having more fun than his son, which is sort of the point, as Smith wrote: “Never let your kids have more fun than you on Easter!!”
10 Will Has Decided To Treat His Children As Though They Are His Equals
Will Smith is the type of parent who treats his children as though they are his equals; which is an interesting approach considering in most parent and child relationships, the parents are the ones who are considered to be in charge, and they set out the rules, which the child should then follow.
Smith treats his children as he would any other adult, and this is an approach he feels works for him and his his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. "We respect our children the way we would respect any other person,” Smith told Haute Living (via E! News).
9 Apparently, He’s A Super-Cool Dad, At Least That’s What Jaden Thinks
We have seen that Will Smith likes to have fun with his children (and being silly is also a great way to remain young at heart) but his kids also think he's a cool dad.
Speaking of his dad during an appearance on The Project (via Daily Mail), Jaden Smith said he is a “super cool dad,” adding, that Smith is “a great guy” and he loves him. Although Jaden admitted Smith was “still a dad,” he happens to think he’s a pretty cool one, and one who has serious skills when it comes to his use of social media.
8 The Smith Family Are Often Making Headlines For Their Unique Approach To Parenting
Many children probably feel as though their parents don't give them enough freedom because they are not able to do whatever they want, whenever they want (which is all part of being a parent). In the Smith household, things are a little different, which is why they so often make headlines for their nontraditional philosophies.
Some of these approaches have been outlined by E! News, and include not punishing their children, treating them as equals (as they would any other adult), and allowing them a lot more freedom than most parents would approve of. This approach has worked for them, but it has also made headlines, as others try to wrap their heads around it.
7 When It Comes To Parenting Strategies, Will Smith Has A ‘Circle Of Safety’
One of the parenting approaches Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith take is to offer their children a ‘circle of safety.’ This is a way for them to speak freely about what they have done, and be able to do so without fear of repercussion.
Smith explained this concept on The Tonight Show (via E! News), saying, "They're allowed to tell us everything that they did [in the circle of safety], and they can't get in trouble. The rule is, if we find out after the circle of safety that there was something you didn't say, there was hell to pay."
6 He Has Combined Family And Work By Deciding To Collaborate With His Children
Seeing your children at home and trying to be a parent to them is challenging enough, but Will Smith took on an entirely different challenge when he opted to work with his children. Most notably, he has collaborated with his son, Jaden Smith, on several films, including The Pursuit of Happyness in 2006 (when Jaden was just eight), and then in 2013, they collaborated again for the film, After Earth.
They have also performed on stage together. In 2019, the father and son duo made headlines after Will joined his son to perform "Icon,” during Jaden's Coachella set, W magazine reports.
5 Kids Can Teach Parents So Much, And Will Smith Has Learned Some Important Lessons
Will Smith is the parent, and he is there to guide his children and impart wisdom, but parents often find that they learn a lot from their children. Being a parent has taught Smith some important lessons, one of the most memorable for him was when his daughter decided to shave her hair in the middle of her Whip My Hair tour.
According to W magazine, Willow had stated that she wanted to end the tour, but her parents were not listening. She got their attention with this move, which made Smith realize that he had been pushing his daughter to finish the tour, instead of listening to what she needed. "I'm looking at that girl and I'm like, 'Got it. I understand. You will not have this trouble out of me ever again. Let's go, baby. We can go,’” he said.
4 Will Is The Type Of Dad That Doesn’t Believe In The Concept Of Punishment
Many parents choose to punish their children in some form, although the approach they take, and the reason for doing so differs — it could be anything from limited screen time to no after-school activities. But in Will Smith’s home, his children are not punished because he believes it is their life, and therefore, they should be responsible for their actions.
"We don't do punishment. The way that we deal with our kids is, they are responsible for their lives," he said, according to E! News. "Our concept is, as young as possible, give them as much control over their lives as possible and the concept of punishment, our experience has been — it has a little too much of a negative quality."
3 Will And Jada’s Children Are Bold And Brave, And They're Driven By Their Artistic Decisions
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have raised two children who are fearless and driven. They were always going to be famous because of their family ties, but Jaden and Willow have worked to make it on their own, and their willingness to take risks, in all aspects of their lives, has paid off.
Will addressed this in an interview with Complex, explaining that his son is not concerned with what others think and is willing to live his life without fear of judgment. "Jaden is 100 percent fearless, he will do anything,” he said. “As a parent, it's scary [...] but he is completely willing to live and die by his artistic decisions and he doesn't concern himself with what people think."
2 He Has Penned A Heartwarming Song About Fatherhood
If ever you were unsure about Will Smith’s feelings about fatherhood, he decided to make them clear in a heartwarming song, “Just The Two Of Us.” The track was released in 1997, and at the time, Will was a father to his son Trey (born in 1992), and he used the song to pay tribute to him, Heart reports.
Lyrics from this song include: "From the first time the doctor placed you in my arms/ I knew I'd meet death before I'd let you meet harm." He later mentions how he loves his son “more than life itself.”
His second child, Jaden (and first with Jada Pinkett Smith) was born a year after the track, in 1998, and Willow arrived in 2000.
1 These Parents Really Do Care About Their Children’s Opinions
Will Smith has noted how it took Willow Smith shaving her head (in 2012, while in the middle of her Whip My Hair tour) for him to realize he needed to pay more attention to her needs, and he places a lot of importance on listening to his children. His wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, has the same approach, and she is not a conventional parent, which she happily admitted to Us Weekly. But she also commented on how she encourages her daughter to share her own opinion.
"I don't just sit with Willow and go, 'Hey, this is what Mommy thinks. Let me just bring in a little reality to validate what Mommy's been talking to you about,’” she said. "What I do with Willow, is I give her the opportunity to be empowered by having herself first."
Sources: Esquire, Who What Wear, E! News, USA Today, Essence, Insider, Daily Mail, W magazine, Complex, Heart, Genius, Us Weekly, InStyle.