Darius Rucker's Kids Are All Grown Up

Transitioning from a college dropout to a full-time musician is no easy feat, yet Darius Rucker has made it appear so. As a bright-eyed South Carolina native, Darius first gained notoriety as the lead vocalist for the rock band Hootie & The Blowfish. Though their success was undeniable, ranging from Grammy awards to several placements on the Billboard charts in the middle to late '90s, Darius made yet another transition in 2008 to country music. Despite the backlash he'd initially faced as a Black country artist, he quickly busted through those glass ceilings and became one of the more notable country acts of the last two decades.

However, none of his professional feats are more rewarding than being the father of Carolyn, Daniella, and Jack Rucker. Coming from a family of six, Darius told Fox News in 2023 that he understood the importance of being present in his children's lives. "It was tough growing up without a dad. I hated it," he said. "I had a lot of great father figures in my life, but not having him there was s****y, and I don't ever want my kids to not know where their dad is or how they can get in touch with him because I never knew how to get in touch with mine." Luckily, his career never came in the way of his parental duties. From their prowess in music to traversing the world of college, Carolyn, Daniella, and Jack Rucker are all grown up and live amazing lives.

Carolyn ventured into content creation in 2012

Darius Rucker welcomed his firstborn, Carolyn Rucker, on April 21, 1995. Named after Darius' mother, who passed away in 1992, Carolyn experienced what appeared to be a relatively normal childhood away from the limelight. By 2012, Carolyn made her presence known online through a slew of videos uploaded to her YouTube channel, giraffeattack21. At 17 years old, she'd spend her free time singing covers of notable songs by Justin Bieber and Rascal Flatts. Though it may have come as a surprise to the general public, it wasn't a shock to Darius, who, according to his interview with Life of Dad, suggested that Carolyn was once interested in following in his footsteps. "My oldest talked about wanting to be a singer but decided that it wasn't for her," he said.

Carolyn's YouTube channel also featured numerous videos discussing her love for boy bands and even reacting to old fanfiction stories she created on Wattpad. Her colorful personality wasn't limited to YouTube, as she continued creating content on other platforms such as X, formerly Twitter, and TikTok. While she hasn't posted a singing cover since 2017, she does keep her social media heavily centered around her life and music.

Carolyn graduated college in 2018

While Carolyn Rucker expressed interest in being a singer, Darius Rucker told Life of Dad that he'd rather his children stay away from the music industry entirely, stating, "If they were to ask me what I wanted them to do, singing would be the last thing I would want them to do. Go be an engineer. Go be a doctor. Go get a real job." Ironically enough, Darius, who previously dropped out of the University of South Carolina, happily watched his eldest daughter traverse the college world. In 2013, Carolyn attended Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. Due to her creative ventures as a teenager, Carolyn pursued a bachelor's degree in Film and Television while also working for their college newspaper, iPusle.

Her hard work didn't fail her there, as in 2018, she successfully graduated with a degree in hand. Darius took to Instagram on May 18, 2018, to congratulate his eldest on the spectacular feat. Alongside a photo with Carolyn, Daniella, and Jack Rucker at the graduation, Darius wrote, "My oldest, @cary4life (Carolyn), graduated college yesterday. So proud of her! Love my babies."

Daniella was named after a legendary athlete

Since his rise to stardom, Darius Rucker has made it known that he's a devoted fan of the Miami Dolphins. This fandom traces back to his childhood when he witnessed their legendary undefeated run in 1972 and primarily stayed with him throughout his life. In addition to tattooing the Dolphin's logo onto his body, Darius became great friends with former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino. His admiration for the former football player became evident as he'd named his second daughter after the Hall of Famer.

In 1998, Darius met his soon-to-be wife, Beth Leonard, while she was working at VH1 in New York. The two quickly tied the knot just two years later, and by May 16, 2001, they introduced Daniella Rose Rucker to their ever-growing family. Considering how much Dan has meant to Darius as a football fan, it's no surprise the "Only Wanna Be with You" singer would name his child after the legend himself. While Carolyn Rucker couldn't meet the woman she was named after since she passed shortly before her birth, Daniella had the opportunity to meet the man who gave her father the inspiration for her name in 2016. Paired alongside a photo of Dan and Daniella standing side-by-side, Darius wrote, "My daughter Dani with the guy she was named after. Dan Marino."

Darius' 'It Won't Be Like This For Long' was an ode to Carolyn and Daniella

In 2008, Darius Rucker's country career began to take shape as his band Hootie & the Blowfish decided to part ways. His album "Learn To Live" garnered notoriety thanks to songs like "Don't Think I Don't Think About It" and "Alright." However, one cut from the album saw him draw inspiration from his ever-growing daughters Carolyn and Daniella Rucker.

Similar to Will Smith's "Just the Two of Us" — which was a tribute to his oldest son, Trey Smith — Darius told 94.9 Star Country in 2008 that he wrote "It Won't Be Like This For Long" with his two daughters in mind (via Genius). "This is about my two daughters," he said. "I've got a 13-year-old and 7-year-old." Through collaborating with notable songwriters Ashley Gorley and Chris DuBois, the song expressed gratitude for his role as a father but also touched on the conflicting feelings a parent may have, knowing their diaper-changing days are slowly ending. "It's absolutely bittersweet," he stated. "When we were writing it, we were talking about how fast our families were growing up. That first week after the baby is born is awful: you're up all the time. Then, when it's not like that, you miss those times." Within the same year, Darius released a music video for the song, which Carolyn, Daniella, and Jack all made a cameo in.

Daniella got to connect with her father during quarantine

Whether touring or making public appearances, Darius Rucker has since stated that going on the road has been both a blessing and a curse in his personal life. That was until 2020 when COVID-19 caused several families to stay in solitary confinement. Although quarantine made Darius miss his time on the road, it also gave him more time to spend with his family.

This closeness was apparent through his social media accounts during the time. In addition to spending time with his son Jack Rucker, he and Daniella Rucker strengthened their relationship under lockdown. In April that year, Daniella convinced Darius to do a TikTok dance challenge with her. The "Wagon Wheel" singer uploaded the video on Instagram with the caption, "Quarantine has to end. At least I got the last part." Just a month later, Darius took to X to share a special song he and Daniella worked on during quarantine. With Darius only providing backing vocals, the song "I Don't Love You Like That" showcased Daniella's range as a singer. "Making the best of these stay-at-home orders and family time, I decided to play around with my garage band and put on my producer hat. With my daughter Dani back home from college, she joined on lead vocals," he wrote. "Thanks Lee Turner and Jeff Marino, my co-producers and the Carolina Grey Boys."

Jack Rucker shares the same passion for golf as his father

From the South Carolina Gamecocks to the Miami Dolphins, Darius Rucker's passion for sports runs deep. But he isn't just a fan. When Darius isn't making records, he often plays golf, a pastime he shared with his Hootie & The Blowfish bandmates. Once he and his wife, Beth Leonard, introduced their first son, Jack Rucker, on October 27, 2004, Darius would eventually have another golf partner to play with.

Jack seemingly showed interest in the sport as he grew up and eventually tagged along with his father during his golfing excursions. In 2018, Darius took to Facebook to deem his son his "favorite golf partner," and by 2019, they'd play in the 25th Monday After the Masters tournament, which Darius and his ex-bandmates founded. In an interview with Kicks 99 Country, Darius expressed how fun it is to have Jack share this passion with him. "You know, having my son be a golfer and love it the way that he does is so amazing for me because, you know, we could do it for the rest of our lives. We could play from different tees, and we could play together for as long as we can physically play," he said. "I just look forward to those times with him ... and the times we've already had have been amazing.

Both Daniella and Jack attended NYU

As the years went by, Darius Rucker became more aware of his reality as a future empty nester. With Carolyn Rucker being the first of the three to experience college, it was only a matter of time before Darius had to send another child off into the world as a young adult. By 2019, Daniella Rucker would be the next one to pursue a higher education, only this time at New York University. The doting father took to Instagram to announce the monumental moment as he sent her off in 2020. "Dropping this wonderful human being off at New York University," he wrote. "Dani, I love you so much. And you make me proud beyond words! Go be great!"

2023 would prove to be a big year for the "It Won't Be Like This For Long Singer" as he would have two graduations to celebrate. Daniella graduated from NYU in May of that year with a Bachelor of Arts. Coincidentally, Jack Rucker would graduate from Porter-Gaud High School within that same month. In an X post celebrating this occasion, Darius announced that Jack would attend NYU just like his older sister. "Jack, you are such an amazing kid. I am so proud of you," he said. "Next stop, New York University. Love you so much, man."

Jack is an aspiring musician

With Carolyn and Daniella Rucker previously showing their musical prowess, Jack Rucker was the last of the bunch to follow in his father's footsteps. Despite Darius Rucker's initial disdain for pushing his children to become musicians, he told Backstage Country in February 2024 that Jack is seemingly serious about this venture. "Jack's actually a musician now," he said. "He's a songwriter, and that's something he wants to do with his life, and he's working on that." While Jack is gifted with vocals, his approach to making music is quite different. When describing his style of music, Darius compared Jack to the "Circles" singer Post Malone, opting for more of a modern pop sound than country.

Following his departure to New York University, Jack became friends with Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe's son, Deacon Phillippe, who's also an NYU student and aspiring musician. On April 19, 2024, Jack promoted their single "The Buzz" on Instagram. Paired with a music video, Darius also promoted the single on his Instagram, praising Jack and Deacon on their musical journey. "Proud of @jack.rucker (Jack Rucker) and @deaconphillippe (Deacon Phillippe) on their new track, 'The Buzz,'" he wrote. "Go give it a listen!"

They were heavily affected by George Floyd's passing in 2020

In 2020, Darius Rucker took advantage of the pandemic and spent more quality time with his family. While it may have seemed like a blessing, 2020 was also filled with uncertainty, inspiring Darius Rucker to make a song about the state of the world. Through Zoom sessions with his musical partners, Josh Osborne and TJ Harding, Darius made the song "Beer and Sunshine" to encourage his fans to find the silver lining. Instead of disregarding all the troubling news during this time, Darius acknowledged them and reminded people that everything would be okay.

Carolyn, Daniella, and Jack Rucker were also catalysts for this need for positivity. Following the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man from Minneapolis who was a victim of police brutality, Darius told Harry Smith from "Today" in 2021 that his children's reaction to the incident made him more motivated to make the song. As someone who previously opened up about the amount of racism he faced as a Black country artist, Darius seeing his kids shaken up about the world they inhabit broke him. "The thing after George Floyd that really made me go, 'I got to change something,' is my kids. ... Watching my daughter sit back and realize she had a bunch of racist friends. You know, watching that made me really sit back and go, 'I just can't keep living my life like everything's okay 'cause everything is not okay.'" he said.

They tend to stray away from their father's music

Darius Rucker may appear bigger than life to the general public, but to Carolyn, Daniella, and Jack Rucker, he is just their doting dad, who they're grateful to have in their lives. Their views on their father caused them to not engage with his music all too often. During his 2021 appearance on Evan Paul and Amber Atnip's podcast, "Taste of Country Nights," Darius spoke about his children's relationship with his long list of hit records. "I can't say that my kids sit around and listen to the Hootie records. Absolutely not," he stated. "I know none of them have listened to any of the country records."

Whether out of sheer embarrassment or simply a dislike of the genre, it seems that the trio isn't going out of their way to listen to their father's music. As Paul joked about Carolyn, Daniella, and Jack's poor judgment, Darius reiterated how awkward it could get for them whenever they hear their father's voice in public. "[Y]ou know, they don't get embarrassed anymore, but at parties, people put my songs on and stuff, and they are like, you know, 'That's my dad,'" he added.

Daniella and Jack were the inspiration behind their mother's children's book

Darius Rucker's relationship with Beth Leonard ended in 2020 after they announced their plans to divorce. According to his statement on Instagram, Darius and Beth decided to "consciously uncouple" — a term Gwyneth Paltrow used when referring to her divorce from Chris Martin in 2014 — and remain co-parents for their children. Throughout this transition, Leonard turned her focus to her career. As a creative who's explored various avenues throughout the entertainment industry, she sought illustrative success through her nonprofit organization, Just Be You, built around the betterment of teenagers and their mental health.

In 2023, Beth released her children's book "I Love You Just As You Are." The tale follows a mother experiencing her daughter's growth and reaffirming her undying love for her as a parent. Like Darius Rucker's "It Won't Be Like This For Long," the core inspiration for the book was her kids. When asked why she decided to write the book while her children were transitioning into new chapters of their lives, Beth told "Today" that the book's conception was likely a result of her reminiscing on their earlier years as children. "Everything happens for a reason, and I think I was probably reflecting on being an empty nester," she replied. "And I'm writing this children's book, and what I wouldn't give to have those moments back ... to actually read the long story."

Carolyn, Daniella, and Jack were in attendance to celebrate their father's monumental achievement

Over the years, Darius Rucker's children have attended various red carpet events. The most notable, however, was in 2023 when Carolyn, Daniella, and Jack Rucker accompanied their father for a special occasion. Like other legends, Hollywood recognized Darius for his achievements throughout his career by presenting him with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Despite the momentous occasion, Darius gave a heartfelt nod to his children, suggesting that none of this would've been possible if it weren't for them. "Cary, Dani, and Jack are my heart, and they're my soul, and they're everything to me, and everything I do is for them, and it's just been an amazing thing to be your father," he said (via Variety). "As great as all this stuff is, it's not as cool as being your dad, and I really mean that. I love you guys so much."

While his children remain relatively private about their father on their social media — only posting things regarding their creative ventures — Carolyn expressed her appreciation for her father to her 1,000+ followers on X. "I am so proud of my dad. Being able to experience this was amazing," she wrote. "He deserves this so much, so proud. Love you, Dad."