“I was used to seeing and talking to Kobe. … It kills you,” said Jack. “We’ll think of him all the time, and we’ll miss him.”
Jack’s love for the Lakers remains an anchor in his life and a passion he shares with three of his six children. Retired from the spotlight since 2010’s rom-com How Do You Know, the legendary actor, 84, who is reportedly suffering from memory loss, rarely leaves his longtime home in Beverly Hills. Jack finds his memory loss upsetting, but he’s resolved to make the most out of this final chapter.
“He’s lived life to the fullest,” says a friend. “Now he’s making up for lost time with his children.”
Jack’s only marriage, to actress Sandra Knight, ended after just six years. He spent the next decades dating a who’s who of Hollywood beauties and reportedly fathering six children by five women. Today, Jennifer, 58, the only child of his marriage, and Lorraine, 31, and Ray, 29, whose mother is Rebecca Broussard, are frequent visitors to their father’s Mulholland Drive home. (He has less contact with kids Caleb, Honey and Tessa.)
“Jack wasn’t around for the kids when they were younger,” confides the friend. “It’s one of his biggest regrets, so he has prioritized family.” Jack has also become an enthusiastic grandfather to Jennifer’s children, Sean and Duke Norfleet.
“We don’t talk about acting much,” says Duke, who followed his famous grandfather into the family business. To no one’s surprise, most of their conversations are about sports. And that’s fine with Jack, who enjoys connecting on a personal level. “After decades of partying, Jack has realized there are more important things in life, like family,” says the friend. “He feels grateful to have a chance to set things right.”
—Reporting by Natalie Posner
For more on this story, pick up the latest issue of Closer magazine, on newsstands now.