He's the least ubiquitous of the Kardashians, and for that Bruce Jenner deserves (another) medal. Esquire bestows the legendary Olympian with the title of "Father of the Year" in its June issue, along with a profile that gives a glimpse into what it's like to be a man that made his name due to his hard work and dedication in his early life, only to end up in his 60s as the invisible patriarch of a family famous for, well, a sex tape. As the magazine's writer describes, the reality TV family's sprawling Calabasas, California, home is decorated to honor its show ponies: Kim, Kourtney, Khloe, Kendall, and Kylie (the latter two daughters are his with wife Kris Jenner). "There is no red singlet in a frame; his gold medal is nowhere to be found. For the most part, Bruce Jenner, Olympian, has been banished to the garage."
But as sad as it may seem, Jenner doesn't mind his emasculated role. "I'm done with competition," admits the man who won the gold medal for decathlon in the 1976 Montreal games. Instead, the 62-year-old is content to do school runs, babysit Kourtney's son Mason, and play with his prized Goblin 700 remote-control helicopter in the backyard. "Going through what I went through, being that obsessed, is not what I would consider a good, well-rounded life," says Jenner — an interesting thought considering that his Kardashian counterparts seem obsessed with infiltrating every aspect of our day-to-day lives, whether it's appearing on magazine covers, hawking weight loss pills on TV, or tweeting photos of their sunburns. "Being a celebrity is a business," he acknowledges. "That's how you have to look at this, and by that measure, this is a very successful business. You see them everywhere, all the time. There's a reason for that."
How Jenner became arguably one of the greatest athletes of all time is a bit of a fluke. He explains that it was his childhood affliction with dyslexia that made him focus on one of the few things he was good at: running. After failing the second grade in his native Yorktown Heights, New York, "I always thought everybody else was better than me." Then three years later, Jenner won a race at school, a glorious feeling he worked hard to replicate on an international level. To prepare for the 1976 Olympics, Jenner trained eight hours a day, every day, for four years. "My greatest gift in life was being dyslexic," he says. "It made me special. It made me different. If I had not been dyslexic, I wouldn't have needed sports. I would have been like every other kid. Instead, I found my one thing, and I was never going to let go of it. That little dyslexic kid is always in the back of your head."
As tough as he was on the track, Jenner is a big softie on the inside, according to his famous stepdaughters. "He's just such a good person with such a good heart," says Khloe, while Kim adds, "He's such a strong man." But it wasn't exactly a dream "Brady Bunch" scenario when Jenner married Kris, who was formerly wed to famed O.J. Simpson attorney Robert Kardashian, in 1990 after just seven months of dating. Kourtney, the oldest of Kris' kids with the late Kardashian, was 12 at the time and she admits she resented him. "But he didn't give up on me," she tells Esquire. "He never gave up."
Kris acknowledges that she and her husband are "exact opposites," and it's his laid-back personality that grounds the household (or at least, he tries) while she's busy managing her children's careers. As Khloe puts it in the article, Jenner — who has three sons and a daughter with his two previous wives — "wasn't able to give his children what they needed" when he was busy being an athlete. Now, with Kendall, 16, and Kylie, 14, he has been able to change that. Explains Kris: "I was a housewife and a mother; that was my priority for the first half of my life [with Kardashian] … after my first litter grew up, I had two more kids with Bruce, and he wanted to be really involved, and I went to work. He made that decision, because with his first kids, he maybe wasn't the best father. With us, he got a second chance."
Do you think Bruce Jenner deserves to be "Father of the Year"?
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