What’s Up South Texas!: Former deputy, single father encourages others to put family first in life

John Estrada put his dreams for music on hold to build a strong foundation for his daughter’s future

SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio single father is hoping his bond with his daughter inspires others to always put family first in life.

John Estrada, 31, is the father of Lyric Estrada, 8. Before her birth, Estrada was deeply involved with music.

“When I was younger, I played a lot of sports,” he said. “My senior year, I tore my ACL. After I tore that off, I couldn’t perform in sports like I used to. I started focusing on music.”

Estrada said he has always had a passion for music and writing poetry.

“I love the legends like Prince,” Estrada said. “Selena. I love to make and write music. When I graduated, I would write music. I also worked in a warehouse but then I would have DJ gigs on the weekend. I was constantly on the go.”

He said when he knew he was having Lyric, his life changed.

“Once Lyric was born, I knew it wasn’t just me anymore,” Estrada said. “I knew I had to be a role model for her. It was taking myself and focusing on her future and paving that path for her.”

In the beginning, Estrada said he was fearful.

“I thought my life was ruined,” he said. “I thought it was going to be no future for me. I thought it was going to be so hard that I couldn’t handle it. But every day that you grow and every day that you go through these obstacles, you realize that life is not going to get easier. You just get stronger in every situation that comes.”

Being so passionate about family, when Estrada and Lyric’s mom separated, he took full custody of his daughter.

“Holding her for the first time felt amazing,” he said. “Being a parent is not supposed to feel like work. It is something that you do, and it is what God gave you. I think for a daughter, she needs to have a man role model in her life, and I want her to find someone better than what I am doing. To do better than me, so I try to do my best. I wanted to be that father figure in her life so when she does have a man in the future or a boyfriend later in the future, like longtime, she is able to have structure. She doesn’t have to settle for anyone.”

Raising a daughter on his own has had its struggles.

“There was always that fear of parenting, but you never give up,” Estrada said. “For example, there were times when she was like 2 or 3 and we would go somewhere to have fun. Well, when she would have to go to the bathroom, there were family rooms for women, but there were none for men. I would have to risk taking her into where I had to go because it was just me and her having a good time.”

Other struggles included finding childcare and other resources. While raising his daughter, he decided to pursue a career where a stronger foundation could be built.

He decided to join the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office.

“I wanted to have more structure,” Estrada said. “To have something to represent and for her to be proud of and show her that you can do anything you want to do. You put your heart and mind to it, you can get it.”

Working in law enforcement taught him many lessons as a man.

“Seeing the worst in people but then knowing that we are all the same at the end of the day,” he said.

Estrada never gave up on his passion for writing music and poetry. In fact, that artistic passion is something that Lyric has loved all of her life.

“When I grow up, I want to be a singer and an artist,” Lyric said. “I love to sing and dance. I love Selena because of the way she sings and dances.”

When Lyric is not singing, dancing, or playing with her pets, she is rock hunting.

“I love science,” she said. “Me and my dad would go rock hunting for my rock collection.”

You could find these two on social media singing, dancing, and being goofy together.

They say they love each other’s music… somewhat.

“She doesn’t like the music I produce because my music is all dancing music,” they laughed together.

Estrada also helps her with her homework when he can and has sisters to assist him in tough subjects.

“Right now, it is easy to help her in any subject but as she gets older, I think it is going to be a little tough because I am not that good at math,” he laughed.

“Yeah, I don’t know math,” Lyric said as they both laughed.

Estrada said he has learned to be patient with raising his daughter, but nevertheless, their bond is stronger than ever.

“Her faith is really big, and she writes me notes to never give up and that I am the best dad,” he said. “That helps me a lot.”

To spend more time with Lyric, Estrada quit his job as a deputy and is now in the process of starting his own trucking business.

“It is a leap of faith that I took for her,” he said. “This is an obstacle that I am going through right now. But hey, if I fall down, I’d rather fall on my face because at least I am falling forward because I am always moving forward.”

He said as their journey continues, he is putting his full faith in God in hopes of a prosperous future for both of them.

“Wherever God takes me, I think that is the best thing that I can ask for,” John Estrada said.

Estrada is encouraging other families, single moms and single dads alike, to keep pushing for the ones you love.

“Keep striving and showing love to your children and don’t let your career or anything change you as a parent,” he said.

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About the Authors:

Japhanie Gray is a reporter with KSAT12 News.