Charlie Sheen’s Father Martin Sheen Reacts to HIV Announcement: “I Couldn’t Believe the Level of Courage”

Martin Sheen and Charlie Sheen, presenters during 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Backstage at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, United States. Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Charlie Sheen's father, Martin Sheen, was just as captivated by the actor's Today show interview as the rest of the world. During a leadership conference in Naples, Fla., on Tuesday, Nov. 17, just hours after Charlie's headline-making HIV reveal, the elder Sheen marveled at his son's courage.

"He had been leading up to this sort of story for several months, and we kept encouraging him to do it. And he kept backing away and backing away because it was like going to his own execution, I guess," the West Wing alum, 75, said of Charlie, 50, as reported by the Naples Daily News. "It was the most difficult thing he'd ever done."

Martin — who was in Naples for the CME Group's Global Financial Leadership Conference — went on to say he wasn't sure if Charlie would even go through with the announcement.

"We didn't know until he walked on the set this morning that he was going to do it," the actor explained. "I saw him Saturday night, my wife and I went to see him to make sure he knew we were behind him, and if he wanted me to go, I would have canceled this event. He said, no, this was his and his alone."

According to the Naples Daily News, Martin became "choked up" during the talk, recalling the Two and a Half Men star's past struggles with drug and alcohol abuse. He himself battled addiction in the 1980s.

"This morning, as I watched him alone, reveal his deepest, darkest secret, I couldn't believe the level of courage I was witnessing and that it was my son," the Sheen patriarch shared. "I left him a message, and I said that if I had that much courage, I would change the world."

The Emmy winner noted that he'd been unable to get in touch with his son after the Today show interview, but that he'd left a second message with one of his favorite quotes. "Robert Kennedy once said, 'One heart with courage is a majority,'" Martin told the crowd.

Per the Naples Daily News, he concluded the chat by encouraging others in the room to show compassion, particularly for those battling addiction. "The effort to find the transcendence in our humanity, our brokenness, to accept the brokenness and to rise with it, without the drug, is what we call recovery," he said. "And I hope that this day is the first day of the rest of Charlie's life as a free man."

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