Celebrity Families

EXCLUSIVE: What Braith Anasta learnt about parenting by losing his father to suicide

The former NRL player opens up about the tragedy that changed him forever.

By Anita Lyons
Braith Anasta's life is a far cry from his days as a young lad playing NRL for the Roosters in Sydney.
Gone are the days of footy, footy, footy. They've now been replaced with nappies, kids' parties and dance lessons, as the 37-year-old is busy running around after his gorgeous daughters.
The TV presenter is in a pretty fabulous place right now.
He's in a relationship with the gorgeous Rachael Lee, and the couple have an 18-month-old daughter Gigi, plus Braith is father to Aleeia, five, from his previous relationship with Neighbours star Jodi Gordon. And he's also a stepfather to Rachael's son Addison, right, from a previous relationship.
But Braith's life hasn't always been a picture of parental or familial bliss.
When the former Rooster's captain was just fifteen years old, his father Peter took his own life, leaving behind two teenagers and Braith's mum, Kim.
Even though he experienced such a horrible tragedy, Braith looks at that period in his life as one that has shaped him to be the man he is today, especially when it comes to parenting.
During an exclusive interview with Now to Love, Braith opened up about what losing his father has taught him about fatherhood and how it has made him the father he is today.
Braith, his father Peter and his brother, Damon. (Source: Instagram/Braith Anasta)
"My dad committed suicide when I was 15, so for me it was a real eye-opener but it taught me a lot, there's no doubt about that," he said.
"Obviously I've been brought up by my mother. Seeing how strong she is and how amazing she was during a difficult period .. she gave us every opportunity to be the people we are today.
"For me, as much as it is a tragedy, it has taught me to be pretty stoic, disciplined and cherish the moment," he added, "and to make sure you look after your kids and don't abandon them."
Braith says that encounter with death and mental illness - suicide is one of the leading causes of death in young Australian men - means he is "more aware of it" and wants to make sure that he never put his kids "in that situation".
"You know, make sure I give them all the love and support that I can forever," he said.
"I think sometimes in tragedy you can learn a lot and it makes you a different person. For me, it's something that I can reflect on and it's made me a better Dad."
Braith with his partner Rachael Lee and children Addison, Aleeia and Gigi. (Source: Instagram/Braith Anasta)
Home life for the Anasta clan is hectic, but also very rewarding for Braith who says he is a super "hands-on" father.
"My mum always used to say to me that I was going to have daughters and it would soften me up, and it really has," he said.
"I've always been a bit of a mummy's boy, so it's not like I was a real 'man's man', but to be honest, they melt your heart. They're both daddy's girls and I enjoy every bit of it."
But having girls does come with its fair share of challenges and Braith admits he's not looking forward to his daughters becoming teenagers.
"I'll try not to think about it until we get there. That's one thing I am worried about, but it's a long way away for me."
Aleeia, Addison and Gigi are just too cute for words! (Source: Instagram/Braith Anasta)
So are Rachael and Braith looking to expand their brood?
"We're a bit unsure," he said. "We've got three at the moment with Addison, Aleeia and Gigi and we kind of just want to see how we're feeling. I reckon when Gigi gets around the two mark we might start thinking about it - because if we're going to have another, we want to make it pretty soon," he said.
"I think we'd love to, but it's already a busy household as it is. We think we could handle it, but we're not sure. We're so torn about it, like we both want another one but whether it is practical is the only dilemma we've got."
Braith having a cuddle with his precious, Gigi and talk about melt your heart. (Source: Instagram/Braith Anasta)
At the moment, practicality is at the forefront of Braith's mind, especially when it comes to co-parenting Aleeia with his ex-wife, Jodi.
"She's in Melbourne for majority of the week so she comes back and it's been like that for a long time, it's pretty stock standard. We have Aleeia Monday to Friday and she goes to school and Jodi comes back and has her on the weekend. We've got that balance. It's pretty standard, we just make sure that Aleeia's got routine and has as good an upbringing as we possibly can," he told Now To Love.
"We've got a good relationship and everything is really fine there. We've got a really good balance and everything's fine."
Braith says his Rachael's "top priority" is looking after their kids especially and avoids the frequent chatter in the media about his ex-wife.
"I've kind of separated myself from outside influences and we're very private, Rachel and myself," Braith said.
"We like it that way. To be honest with you, Jodi's life is her life and her personal life is her business and we try and stay away from that and we just make sure everyone is looked after.
"Our priority is the kids and making sure they're fine and that their life is as normal as possible and that they're happy. That's pretty much it for us."
Braith with his mum Kim, Rachael, Addison, Aleeia and Gigi. (Source: Instagram/Braith Anasta)
Currently, Braith is an ambassador for the Misterhood for the Sisterhood campaign with Priceline.
And of course, his family of strong women is the reason why he wanted to be involved.
"Any campaign that is encouraging and helping women in any way for me is just a no-brainer," Braith said.
"So for me, as soon as I got the opportunity to represent the 'sisterhood' and support women, and being so passionate about the women in my life. I just thought it was fantastic.
"It's a great initiative and campaign to be a apart of."
The campaign supports five charities dedicated to helping women and their families affected by serious illness and the proceeds raised go directly to these organisations. So far the initiative has raised $4.5 million.
Braith and his gorgeous family. (Source: Instagram/Braith Anasta)