It had never occurred to Valencia resident Robert Manley that his adopted son, Dwight Manley, had strong physical and character similarities to former Los Angeles County Fifth District Supervisor Mike Antonovich.
The realization of those similarities happened only recently when the three gathered together for the first time. That’s because Dwight, 53, found out his biological father is, in fact, the 79-year-old long-time L.A. politician.
“I think one of the most special moments was when both of my dads met,” he said. Dwight said the experience was good one but found interesting that, when both parents met, “never did (Robert) connect and say, ‘Hey, you look like my son.’’”
Two Christmases ago, Dwight, a Brea resident, received a genetic testing kit, but “We all laughed about it because it was nothing I was anxious to do, because I knew who my ‘parents’ were.”
After waiting weeks before participating, he became intrigued to learn that the results on ancestry.com showed “mantonovich_1” as either a son or father connection. Dwight, at first, thought he had another son, but soon realized that the name did not match what his biological mother, who he now keeps in touch with, had told her when he met her for the first time at age 27. (When reached by phone, Michael Antonovich declined to comment on the story.)
It was all in the bond, in the connection, he said.
After meeting his alleged father in 1994, the pair spent time together only a handful of times but “we didn’t have anything in common.”
Then came 2018, when he sat across from Antonovich for the first time over lunch.
“It was a Friday when we met with his brother Greg in downtown L.A. before an event he would have that night,” said Dwight. “All three of us have the same blue eyes, the same eyeballs like if they’re from the same jar. When I’m talking to him and looking at him in the eye, it’s like you’re looking at yourself.”
Up until a year ago, Antonovich did not know he would have his son Dwight in front of him, let alone of his existence.
“Mike did not know I existed, until 12 months ago, as my birth mother was seeing a few guys as the time, which she finally admitted after the DNA results and had told me a different person was my father.”
Dwight, a real estate developer, coin collector and prominent sports agent who has represented NBA stars such as Dennis Rodman and Karl Malone, knew the similarities extended far beyond the piercing blue eyes he shared with Antonovich and his uncle.
It’s in their passion to give back.
“Mike is very into giving back to the community and not for a quick fix but more for doing what’s best for people that can’t figure it out or do for themselves,” said Dwight. “He’s doing it for Los Angeles County and I’m very involved in my local community in Brea. I feel there’s a lot of similarities and drive to our communities.”
Much like Dwight’s work being an active member of his community, Antonovich has a robust political background, having served on the Board of Supervisors from 1980 to 2016, a state assemblyman in the 1970s and chair of the California Republican Party in the 1980s.
Dwight, who is a father of two young adults, even sees parenting similarities with Antonovich, who also has two children of the same age as Dwight’s kids.
“At one point he was doing all the driving and picking up the children just like me,” he said. “We have a lot of similarities and reactions.”
As for Antonovich, Dwight said the former county supervisor feels blessed to have him.
“The biggest thankfulness is that we are both alive,” said Dwight. “He’s 79 now and I had cancer. I’m fine now but anything could have made this not be able to happen.”
The two newly found father and son are planning a trip to Croatia to learn more about their family history and “see our roots together.”