Ryan O'Neal: "I suppose I was" a bad parent to my kids
O'Neal has three children who have battled drug issues: Tatum, Griffin and Redmond. His son Patrick, a sportscaster in California, has managed to stay out of the headlines.Pictures: Farrah Fawcett, 1949-2009
Read more: Ryan O'Neal chronicles his love story with Farrah Fawcett
So, when "Today" host Matt Lauer asked O'Neal, "Were you a bad parent?" he said, "Looks like it, doesn't it? Sure looks like it. I suppose I was."
O'Neal said he was never "trained" in parenting, noting his children are now adults and responsible for their own actions. "Griffin is 45, Tatum is 49. Who's the other one? Redmond is 27," O'Neal said in a very candid interview. "They have to take hold of their own existences."
O'Neal's son Griffin is in prison for a 2011 drug-related car crash, while his daughter Tatum suffered with serious drug addiction, and Redmond -- his one child with actress Farrah Fawcett -- has battled heroin addiction.
Fawcett died in 2009 after a battle with cancer. O'Neal said his book was a way to keep the line between them going. "I still felt she was nearby when I wrote this. She was close," he said about his companion of nearly 30 years. "She loved me. I couldn't write a book if she hadn't."
Now, O'Neal has his own cancer to fight. Last month, he was diagnosed with Stage 2 prostate cancer. He was originally scheduled to appear on "Today" Monday morning, but left the set before going on air.
According to doctors, O'Neal had a panic attack. The "Love Story" star said it was his first one, noting, "Even with those kids, I never had a panic attack."
"I don't know what was wrong," O'Neal explained. "Terror perhaps? I just broke out into a terrible sweat. You wouldn't have wanted me. So I went home and went to bed and I feel better now."