DERBY, Kan. — Joseph Ashby, an aerospace engineer and part-time radio host from Derby, Kan., is living the "dream" that many dads have only thought of. With a basketball star for a 2-year-old, Ashby has made several national TV appearances and met many NBA stars. Yet although Ashby has enjoyed their latest adventures, the best part of his "real-life-dream" has been spending time with his son, Titus.
"It does feel like it's a dream," Ashby said. "But I don't know if it's a dream come true, because I never really thought that I was the kind of person that's like, 'Oh I can't wait to meet a famous person, or I want to be so famous some day.’ ”
Although Ashby has made several appearances with his toddler, he's happy to have the spotlight on his son.
"My co-worker said, 'You're kind of like Billy Ray Cyrus. You're a little famous, but your kid is really famous!’ ”
Growing up, Ashby played a lot of sports, basketball included. Although swimming was his main event, Ashby has always enjoyed basketball. In fact, it was late at night when Ashby's youngest son and basketball star was first introduced to the game.
"He used to watch basketball with me after the other kids went to bed, when he was still a baby," Ashby said. "Then he first started dropping a ball into a hoop when he was about 15 months."
It was Ashby's idea to make a video, compiling all of Titus's basketball shots they had recorded since Titus began shooting. All of the Ashbys were involved, including their three other children ages, 8, 6 and 4 who appear in the video.
"We joked around about it going viral, but we didn’t think it would ever happen," their mother, Kristin Ashby, said in an interview with the Deseret News. "After we posted it, we started getting calls and comments on the videos, and then it just kept getting more popular. We were just bombarded with emails, calls and media requests."
Since then, Titus has become a YouTube sensation and has been asked to appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" several times in order to challenge Kimmel, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and most recently, Metta World Peace. Titus has also made an appearance on "The Today Show."
The first two trips, the Ashby family took together. But since then, Ashby has had a chance to travel alone with Titus to make three more appearances on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" During this time, Ashby has loved the opportunity to be with his son during this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Because Ashby has had some extra time with Titus, he's also had a few proud dad moments.
"All of our other kids, if they would fall and bump their head or skin a knee, would always go to their mom, always," Ashby said. "It was one of those things where I would reach out to them and they would sort of walk right by me to her. But now, Titus actually does the same thing to her.
"I just have done a lot of bonding with Titus, I guess. So when he has a bonked head he comes and hugs me. I feel pretty special as a dad right now."
Ashby explained that he and his wife, Kristin, have always tried to make a unique special connection with each of their children.
"What Titus and I have been able to do is real special, and we try to forge that kind of relationship with all the kids," Ashby said. "That sort of happened easily, and at a very young age for Titus and I."
The airplane trips have become something that both Ashby and Titus have gotten used to. During the latest trip to Los Angeles, Ashby explained that Titus loved to carry his own backpack, which carried his blanket and pacifier.
"It was pretty big for him, but he just loved carrying it around, and everybody just went crazy at the airport," Ashby said. "I was a pretty proud dad with my little son carrying his own weight."
Whether it is traveling together or simply shooting around at their own home, Ashby says the memories will be priceless.
"We've just done a lot of things that are going to be very special memories and are really fun to experience in real time."
As for the rest of the family, they feel just as involved and proud of what their little brother can do, even though they still haven't quite caught on to how famous Titus really has become.
"They're excited to see Titus succeed," Ashby said. "But the fact that Titus is doing these national television appearances on network TV, I don't think they have any concept of what that is. It's sort of a hobby that we all do together. It's been a lot of fun to do something that's unique together."
Yet being a dad, and spending time with his family, whether shooting hoops or not, is what truly means the most to Ashby.
"I love my kids a lot," Ashby said. "I love having kids because there just never is another situation in life, whether you are a talk show host or a famous person, like it. We put a lot of stock into the influence of somebody who has authority or fame, but it's never like the influence you have over your kids.
"A president might be an inspiring figure, but he's never going to love you like your dad loves you, or your mom. I consider it one of the highest things that I do in life, being a father."
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company