Whether you recognize John C. McGinley from hit TV shows like Scrubs or Hollywood movies like Platoon and Office Space, you’ve definitely seen his famous face before.
Since starting his career on the stage, and in soap operas like Another World, McGinley has established himself as one of Hollywood’s busiest stars. The actor has appeared in more than 50 movies, and is still making us laugh on shows like Stan Against Evil.
But if you ask McGinley what his biggest role was, he would probably say being a father.
When McGinley and his wife Lauren Lambert were expecting a child in 1997, they were seriously taken by surprise. For one thing, the couple both thought they would be having a girl, and had only picked out girl names.
Not only did they have a son instead, but doctors quickly told the couple their son had Down Syndrome.
The news came as a shock to McGinley, and his bizarre exchange with the doctor didn’t help.
“She asked me if I thought we should tell his mom,” he remembered. “I was like, "Yeah, I think we probably should." As if there was any question. Then this guy from the state, who I guess was charged with telling you adoption services are available, came in.”
But of course McGinley and his wife didn’t put their child up for adoption. The couple named him Max, and they devoted themselves to him during the weeks he spent in the NICU.
“The first couple of months it felt like we had been hit over the head by some kind of cosmic hammer,” the actor remembers. “Because there were no indications going in… that Max had any challenges.”
McGinley hadn’t just been blindsided by his son’s diagnosis, he was also completely in the dark about his new son’s condition.
“‘What’s Down Syndrome anyway?’” he asked the doctor. “‘What do you mean his 21st chromosome tripled?’”
The challenge of raising a son with Down Syndrome never went away, but McGinley rose to meet them quickly. He’s proven himself to be a loving father, and Max managed to repay his kindness by helping McGinley land one of his biggest roles.