Kelly Ripa Has Opened Up About Her Son’s Dyslexia, And What She Revealed Even Made Ryan Seacrest Cry

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Since 2001, Kelly Ripa has co-hosted America’s highest-rated morning show, Live with…, alongside Regis Philbin, Michael Strahan and some 60 other celebrity guests. But most recent recruit Ryan Seacrest may well be the first co-host that she has made cry. And, no, Ripa wasn’t bullying the new boy. Thankfully, as you are about to discover, the tears were for an altogether more heartwarming reason.

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Born in Stratford, New Jersey in 1970, Ripa initially studied psychology at Camden County College before leaving for New York to pursue an acting career. Then, in 1990, she was cast as party girl Hayley Vaughan on the television soap opera All My Children. During her 12 years on that series, Ripa also appeared in the 1994 Seinfield episode “The Stand In,” 1996’s film drama Marvin’s Room and the TV movie Someone to Love in 2001.

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But Ripa’s star truly skyrocketed when she auditioned to replace Kathie Lee Gifford on America’s number one morning television show, Live with…, in 2001. And Ripa pipped the likes of Rosie O’Donnell and Whoopi Goldberg to the presenter’s post, sitting alongside long-time host Regis Philbin. The show was subsequently renamed Live with Regis and Kelly, and it received a boost in the ratings not long after Ripa’s arrival.

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Indeed, Ripa’s natural rapport with Philbin and the show’s relatable life stories helped Live with Regis and Kelly go on to attract a daily viewership of six million. Ripa also helped to bring in a whole new audience, pleasing advertisers with a colossal 80 percent rise in the program’s youth segment. And the hosting duo enjoyed a hugely successful working relationship for a decade before Philbin decided to call it a day.

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However, Ripa famously turned into a blubbering wreck during the recording of Philbin’s final show in November 2011. The female co-host talked emotionally about how the 43 steps that the pair took from her dressing room onto the Live with… set each day had changed her entire life. Ripa and the then 80-year-old Philbin finished the show by embracing, before declaring that they loved each other.

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Ripa then spent the next 12 months co-hosting the show with various celebrity guests, including comedian Seth Meyers and singers Nick Lachey and Josh Groban. But it was Michael Strahan who got the gig permanently in 2012. The former New York Giants defensive end subsequently spent three years in the Live with… chair before leaving for its rival show Good Morning America.

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However, prior to Strahan jumping ship, there was apparently already trouble among the crew. Ripa reportedly had a strained working relationship with her co-host, for example. And things allegedly came to a head in spring 2016, when the ex-NFL star announced that he was quitting the show live on air – much to his co-star’s visible surprise. Ripa was absent for the following morning’s show, and when she eventually returned a week later, there seemed to be tension between her and Strahan.

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But despite her daily presence on the Live with… stage, Ripa has often found the time to explore other ventures. For example, from 2006, she starred as Faith Fairfield for three years in ABC sitcom Hope and Faith; she also hosted the seasonal TV fixture Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade from 2001 to 2009. And, in 2008, Ripa voiced characters in the animated children’s fantasies Delgo and Fly Me to the Moon. That same year, she set up a film and TV production house with her husband, actor Mark Consuelos. The company is called Milojo, using the first two letters of the names of the couple’s three kids.

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Ripa had first met Consuelos in 1995 when they appeared together on All My Children. Just a year later, the pair became husband and wife, and it wasn’t long before they started a family, either. In June 1997 the couple welcomed their first child into the world, Michael Joseph. Ripa then gave birth to a daughter, Lola Grace, in June 2001 and another boy, Joaquin Antonio, in February 2003.

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And it was a story about Joaquin overcoming a hurdle at school that resulted in Ripa and her latest talk show co-host becoming overcome themselves. In fact, on the October 25, 2017, edition of Live with Kelly and Ryan, both Ripa and Seacrest were reduced to tears. No stranger to discussing her family on the show, Ripa began talking about her youngest son starting his freshman year in high school. But as she expanded on how Joaquin was getting on with his new challenge, she suddenly started to well up.

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Ripa also told the TV audience about a recent appointment with her son’s teachers. “School has always been a very big challenge for us in our household,” she explained. “So I went to his new school for a parent-teacher conference…” But, apparently, Joaquin’s progress turned out to be extraordinary. Ripa continued, saying, “He’s getting straight As. And so I broke down crying in the middle of the parent-teacher conference.”

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This was an exceptional achievement for Joaquin, since he has been diagnosed as being dyslexic. And the welcome news came as a complete shock to Ripa, as her mischievous son had decided to keep his grades a secret. Joaquin, who was also attending the conference, began laughing awkwardly after the revelation as his mom began to cry. What’s more, upon seeing Ripa’s emotional state, the 14-year-old’s teachers had to reassure his mother that the results they had just imparted were indeed positive. As it happens, however, the star’s tears were ones of joy.

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And Joaquin’s achievement was no mean feat, as dyslexia typically leads to problems with spelling, writing and pronouncing words. The condition is diagnosed through various memory, vision, spelling and reading tests and is reportedly caused by both environmental and genetic factors. Furthermore, approximately three to seven percent of the world’s population are believed to be dyslexic.

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But while Ripa was already fighting back the tears on the Live with Kelly and Ryan set, she wasn’t done yet. And the star became even more emotional as she recalled a visit to Joaquin’s first-grade book fair. She said, “He was showing us everybody else’s books. He didn’t want us to see his book. So, anyway, I’m proud of him.”

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Then Seacrest, who had only been appointed as the show’s co-host six months before, attempted to comfort Ripa as she struggled to contain her emotions. He told her, “I see the way you handle your career, and most importantly, family… And it’s so impressive. I am inspired by it, and anybody who knows you and watches you agrees.”

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However, the sight of his sobbing co-star seemingly prompted a wave of emotion in Seacrest. Indeed, the former American Idol presenter had to take several tissues to dab his eyes after Ripa had finished her tale. Seacrest admitted live on air, “When my mom cries, it makes me cry. So when you cry, it makes me cry. It’s like a trigger.”

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And Ripa received a hugely encouraging response from the Live with Kelly and Ryan viewers after her tearful on-screen revelation. One fan commented positively on the star’s Instagram page, writing, “It was so sweet to see you talking about your son. So great that he is excelling.” Another said, “The best mom in the biz! You pulled on my heart strings with the school chat this morning.”

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Just a few months before her on-air waterworks, though, Ripa had also shown on social media how proud she was of her son. Back in June 2017, the star uploaded a picture to Instagram of her family attending Joaquin’s middle school graduation. Ripa’s clan then threw a celeb-studded bash to further celebrate Joaquin’s academic triumph.

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And Ripa had previously told a humorous story about Joaquin’s reading habits while appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. In particular, she revealed how her youngest son had chosen Colbert’s spoof kids book I Am A Pole (And So Can You!) so that the boy’s teacher could read it to the class. The arrangement at the school had been that if Joaquin managed to finish an agreed number of books, he could choose one for the teacher to read. This was no small undertaking for a young boy with dyslexia. Nonetheless, his teacher refused to finish the story due to its occasionally risqué subject matter.

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But while Colbert subsequently apologized for inadvertently getting Joaquin into trouble, Ripa revealed that she was able to see the funny side of the incident. She added, “This is still the greatest school memory we have. Nowadays, parents are so careful, and they’re so good at parenting, and I became that mom.” Even so, it looks like the star of daytime TV has a star student on her hands.

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, it often touches fans’ hearts when celebrities open up about their children. Take this confession from TV host Jimmy Kimmel, for instance, which left his viewers seriously emotional. When people tune into Jimmy Kimmel Live!, they likely expect some fairly lighthearted fare. This wasn’t the case on the evening of May 1, 2017, though, as instead of telling jokes, Kimmel got on stage and told his audience a very personal story. And even if the host did preface his tale with a reassurance that it had a happy ending, what he revealed was still distressing enough to get the whole world talking.

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And the seriousness of Kimmel’s monologue may have been surprising to some – not least because he’s primarily known as a funnyman. Kimmel even started off his TV career on Comedy Central, where he initially appeared on Win Ben Stein’s Money; and his work on the game show ultimately earned him a Daytime Emmy Award.

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Then, while still working on Win Ben Stein’s Money, Kimmel began co-hosting The Man Show. And this series, it seems, was enough of a hit to open new doors for the comedian. Certainly, Kimmel went on to bigger and better things in 2003, as that’s when he earned his own chat show, Jimmy Kimmel Live!

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It took Jimmy Kimmel Live! a bit of time to really find its feet, however. For starters, Kimmel initially misjudged what the tone of a talk show should be. He told Vulture in 2012, “I didn’t understand that you had to be nice to the guests. I’d mow through them, and then their publicists would never bring anyone back.”

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However, the show slowly evolved – and Kimmel himself did, too. When he had started his comedy career, he had been a “frat boy” sort of character, allegedly prone to public drunkenness and immature behavior. The arguably boorish tone of The Man Show didn’t help in making over Kimmel’s image, either.

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But as Kimmel grew up, he seemingly adopted a more sober and serious public persona. He joined forces with Ellen DeGeneres to express support for LGBT rights, for instance, and began conducting interviews with politicians as well as celebrities. In fact, both Barack Obama and Donald Trump appeared on his show in 2016.

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Trump’s May 2016 slot on Jimmy Kimmel Live! wasn’t greeted warmly in some quarters, however. In fact, there was even a protest close to the show’s studio in response to the then presidential hopeful’s appearance. Regardless, the host seemingly made an effort to get some answers from the mogul; for instance, he attempted to impel Trump to give his opinion on the transgender bathroom debate.

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Kimmel’s show with Barack Obama, meanwhile, took place in October 2016. And the president joined in with perhaps one of the most popular segments on Jimmy Kimmel Live! – the part where famous people read and respond to mean tweets about themselves.

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There was a sting in the tail, though, as one of the tweets Obama was given to respond to was from none other than Donald Trump himself. In particular, Trump had tweeted, “President Obama will go down as perhaps the worst president in the history of the United States.” But Obama himself brushed off the slight with some wit. “Well, at least I’ll go down as a president,” he said.

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Then, of course, Trump was sworn in as president on January 20, 2017. And his election and many of his subsequent actions as leader of the U.S. have proved controversial; American citizens, too, have often been divided on their opinions as to whether Trump is doing a good job.

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Given the polarized nature of politics after President Trump’s election, then, Kimmel may have been well aware that talking about current affairs could potentially lose him some viewers. Even so, that didn’t stop the host from making his own tentative steps into the political arena during his show on May 1, 2017.

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Prior to the May 1 episode, Kimmel’s show had actually been off air for a whole week. His fans hadn’t known the exact reason for the sudden absence, either, but Kimmel was happy to later tell them the specifics. And what had happened to the comedian would be enough to make anybody want to take a break from work.

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Kimmel has hosted Jimmy Kimmel Live! since 2003. He’s also helmed several high-profile awards shows including the Oscars – it’s safe to say, then, that he knows how to hold an audience’s attention. Plus, the star has had his share of controversies for which he’s had to apologize; there were no apologies this time around, however.

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It must be noted, though, that in addition to being a famous talk-show host, Kimmel is also a dad. He has two children – now adults – with his first wife Gina Maddy. Then, in 2014 he and his new wife, Jimmy Kimmel Live! head writer Molly McNearney, had a daughter named Jane. Another child named Billy followed in 2017 – and, as it turned out, Billy was the subject of Kimmel’s monologue.

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As Kimmel began that monologue, though, he was visibly upset. With tears in his eyes, he went on to explain what he and his wife had been through. And it’s no surprise that the star was so emotional on that occasion. Losing a child before they even have a chance to live is practically every parent’s worst nightmare, and it seemed that little Billy had been lucky to survive what he had gone through.

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The actual birth of Kimmel’s son had gone smoothly, and the child himself had seemed healthy. Nevertheless, while mother and baby had been recovering at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, a “very attentive” nurse named Nanush had come to check on the baby and realized that something wasn’t right. Specifically, the little one seemingly had a heart murmur; his skin was also developing a purplish tint.

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So, the staff at the hospital quickly began attending to the baby. And in the process, the medical professionals ruled out Billy having a lung condition, which meant that it was potentially something even worse: a heart condition. “It’s a terrifying thing,” Kimmel told his audience. “I’m standing in the middle of a lot of very worried-looking people — kind of like right now — who are trying to figure out what the problem is.”

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Baby Billy was subsequently given a specialized kind of ultrasound scan called an echocardiogram. And this revealed everyone’s worst fears: there really was something wrong with Billy’s heart. In particular, the baby’s pulmonary valve was blocked, and there was a hole in the heart wall. He was seemingly suffering, then, from a condition called tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) with pulmonary atresia.

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Due to the severity of Billy’s condition, doctors therefore had to act fast. Just three days later, then, the newborn baby was taken in for heart surgery at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “It was the longest three hours of my life,” Kimmel later said of the experience. But, fortunately, the procedure was a success. Although Billy would have to undergo more surgery in the future, he had pulled through.

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The audience applauded at the story’s happy ending. They applauded yet again when Kimmel read out the names of the nurses, doctors, surgeons and friends who had helped them. However, Kimmel wasn’t done yet; indeed, he had more to say.

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Kimmel would direct the rest of his speech towards the Republican Party. “President Trump last month proposed a $6 billion cut in funding to the National Institute[s] of Health,” he said. “And thank God our congressmen made a deal last night not to go along with that.”

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Kimmel then spoke about Obamacare – or the Affordable Care Act (ACA), to give it its official name. “We were brought up to believe that we live in the greatest country in the world, but until a few years ago millions and millions of us had no access to health insurance at all,” he said. He went on to add that before the ACA, his son may never have been able to get health insurance due to his heart condition.

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And Kimmel ended his speech with a plea for better healthcare in America. “If your baby is going to die and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make,” he said. “I think that’s something that whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or something else – we all agree on that, right?”

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Many people would praise what Kimmel had said. On Twitter and Instagram, too, the video of Kimmel’s monologue received hundreds of thousands of likes – far more than most posts on the star’s social media channels. And the mainstream media also reported on the story, with speculation ultimately accumulating about what political impact the comedian’s speech may have.

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Before long, Barack Obama got involved as well. “Well said, Jimmy,” the former president and one-time guest on the show wrote on Twitter. “That’s exactly why we fought so hard for the ACA and why we need to protect it for kids like Billy.” Obama also congratulated Kimmel on the birth of the little boy.

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And while many prominent Republicans – who have been fighting to repeal the Affordable Care Act – may have disagreed with Kimmel’s stance, they were massively outnumbered by members of the public who voiced their fears for themselves and their own children should the act be repealed. When Republican politician Joe Walsh sent out what was seen as a particularly callous tweet on the matter, then, the backlash was huge.

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“Sorry Jimmy Kimmel: your sad story doesn’t obligate me or anybody else to pay for somebody else’s health care,” Walsh tweeted on May 2. The comments in reply were almost universally angry. “Thank you for having the courage to fight against those conniving evil takers: sick children,” one person sarcastically wrote.

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Kimmel also apparently inspired other people to share their own stories. “We went through the same wait as Kimmel, watching the echocardiogram, wondering what would happen next,” wrote a mother called Kate Ristau in The Washington Post. “What if we had to choose between paying our mortgage or paying his bills?”

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Although many parents would ultimately choose to go bankrupt rather than risk their children’s lives, the idea that nobody should ever actually have to make that choice is at the core of the healthcare debate. Kimmel’s words therefore resonated with many who were angry with President Trump’s plans for healthcare – plans that include sexual assault potentially being reclassified as a pre-existing condition.

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But although Kimmel made no further comments about Trump after his speech, he did however thank those who had sent messages of support to his family and donations to the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. He also mentioned that Billy was well. Hopefully, then, Billy will grow up in a world where he doesn’t have to worry about qualifying for health insurance.

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