Denzel Washington fought back tears during a surprise-filled appearance on US TV talk show OPRAH yesterday (31OCT06) when his American football player son paid a special tribute to him. Joined on the show by his mother, the proud dad looked on as his son JOHN DAVID - a Morehouse college star who signed to NFL (National Football League) team St Louis Rams in September (06) - spoke about his famous dad. John David revealed his dad was "tough" but added, "He's a great motivator. He can bring the best out of you, the part you didn't know you had in you. Because of my dad I want to be the best in what I do." Show host Oprah Winfrey had a few more surprises in store for the double Oscar winner - she also got hold of footage of the actor playing football in high school. Washington says, "I was doing JULIUS CAESAR on Broadway and someone brought me a copy of my high school championship game. For 34 years, I think it was, I'd never seen myself so I was just happy that I hadn't lied too much." The PHILADELPHIA star was also reunited with MR UNDERWOOD, a former teacher who taught the actor the importance of reading and writing. The retired educator brought one of the young Washington's first poems with him, and the actor was thrilled to read his ode to winter. He read, "Waking up new, stretching and yawning/ Looking through the window at the great white morning/ Dropping back down as in breaking a sling/ The bear says to himself, 'I'll wait 'til spring."