Inside Steve Harvey's Once Fractured Relationship With His Children

Steve Harvey has a big family and he wouldn't have it any other way. "Family is my reason why, I work to leave a legacy and hopefully the world a better place for them," the "Family Feud" host and executive producer shared on a 2017 Instagram post. The comedian first added "dad" to his long list of titles in August 1982, when Harvey welcomed twin daughters Karli and Brandi with his first wife, Marcia. In 1991, the couple added a son, Broderick, to the brood.

But the union wouldn't go beyond their third child's toddler years. In 1994, Harvey and Marcia divorced. He immediately jumped into another relationship with Mary Shackelford, which resulted in his second marriage in 1996. The following year, Harvey became a fourth-time father with the addition of his second son, Wynton, born that July. Harvey and Shackelford's marriage ended in a messy divorce in 2005. Once again, Harvey wasted no time before moving on. 

That same year, Harvey started a relationship with Marjorie Bridges. By early 2008, Harvey was saying "I do" a third time. Bridges had three children from a previous relationship, Morgan, Jason, and Lori. Harvey adopted them, making him go from father of four to father of seven overnight. "The union of our family has been the greatest thing ever to happen to me. The kids all call me dad," he told Essence in 2008. While his family life had a happy ending, Harvey was strained from some of his children early on.

Steve Harvey put his career over his first three children

While Steve Harvey has been a household name for decades, he was just a regular guy working regular jobs when he married Marcia. But he dreamed of being on TV, even if nothing in his life pointed in that direction. At least that was the case until he won a 1985 amateur competition at a comedy club in Ohio. The prize was $50, but he quit his day job over it. Marcia wasn't okay with that at all. "I'm married, I have twins. I'm supposed to provide for them, but I had to take this chance," he recalled in a 2016 interview with People.

Unsurprisingly, his decision drove a wedge between them. As Harvey struggled to make enough money, his marriage collapsed and he chose to leave them behind to pursue his dreams. With the move, he lost touch with three children. Harvey didn't fully reestablish their relationship until Karli and Brandi were adults and Broderick was a teenager. "I didn't really have my dad full-time in my life until I was 16," Broderick said on his father's talk show, "Steve," in 2019.

The kids were able to forgive their father once they were able to see where he was coming from. "Years later [Karli and Brandi] said to me, 'Dad, we didn't understand why you left us, but we know now you had to go. You didn't just belong to us. You belonged to the world,'" he told People.

Steve Harvey was awarded custody of Wynton

Amid Steve Harvey and Mary Shackelford's contentious split, the comedian ended up getting primary custody of their son, Wynton, in 2011, when he was 13, according to the New York Daily News. Shackelford accused Harvey of taking the boy without her consent, but he argued she was the one who wanted Wynton to live with him. "[She] willingly placed the child on an airplane and sent him to Mr. Harvey without his knowledge," his defense team contended in court documents. Wynton seems to have gone through a lot during his parents' divorce.

But Harvey's relationship with Wynton remained solid through it all. During a surprise appearance on "The Steve Harvey Show" on Father's Day in 2015, Wynton thanked his father for helping shape him into the man he's become. "It's gonna remind me of how much of an influence you were to me and how you basically turned me into a good enough student so I could actually be accepted into college ... You were able to turn me around," he said, after showing his father the photo of the two together that he was going to take to Florida International University.

Years later, Wynton showed he and Harvey were still close. "40 years apart but we still in sync," he captioned a March 2022 Instagram snap featuring them in Abu Dhabi. "Btw, this is the 2nd day in a row we unknowingly came out the house in the same colorway without coordinating."