President Barack Obama was seen at this week’s Democratic National Convention greeting delegates and waving to crowds of supporters, not only accompanied by his wife and two daughters, but also his rarely seen 19-year-old son, Luther.
Reports say the shy, slightly overweight teenager, who has lived his entire life with his mother in central Illinois, seldom appears in public with the president, with whom he has reportedly shared a somewhat distant and occasionally strained relationship.
“When I saw that kid with President Obama, I had no clue who he was,” said Georgia delegate, Kathy Tyson, stating that the teen appeared to have difficulty sustaining eye contact with others and stood uncomfortably alongside his father when he shook hands with voters Thursday.
Tyson said: “I guess he does kind of look like the president, though a bit shorter and stockier.”
Luther was born in 1993 to Andrea Pletcher, then a 24-year-old diner cashier whom Obama, a young law professor at the time, met during a brief trip to the state capital of Springfield.
While the president’s son is said to have faced numerous obstacles during his childhood, including academic troubles, repeated emotional outbursts, and his mother’s bouts with alcoholism, family friends have stated that overall he was a “good kid” who “genuinely meant well.”
White House aides said the president sends money to Pletcher each month for Luther’s care.
After he became a U.S. senator and moved to Washington, Obama reportedly visited his 11-year-old son every other Saturday afternoon, playing wiffle ball with him or taking him out to a movie matinee and then dinner at the local Applebee’s.
When he became president, however, Obama’s contact with the boy reduced markedly, though sources confirmed he would still send Luther a birthday card and speak with him on the phone every month or so, often talking him through his schoolwork or asking about his son’s interests in music and online gaming.
According to reports, the two have often struggled to find common ground, owing largely to their sharply differing levels of motivation and expectations for academic and personal success.