Best friends Ashley Thomas and Latoya Wimberly have been friends since junior high, but only recently learned they are biological sisters.
Growing up, Ashley was raised by her biological mother and a man who was not her biological father. Ashley’s mom, who died 11 years ago, never told her who may have been Ashley’s biological dad.
As they grew up, Ashley and Latoya were often told how much they resembled one another — same smile, same complexion, and similar facial features, but they never suspected they might be sisters.
Latoya’s father, Kenneth Wimberly, always treated his daughter’s best friend as though she was his own daughter, helping Ashley when she had car troubles and sharing many family dinners together.
Last month, Kenneth, 48, found out through a DNA test that he was, in fact, Ashley’s biological father.
In February, they learned they are exactly that — biological sisters. https://t.co/vREAc7XQVe
— WREG News Channel 3 (@3onyourside) March 10, 2020
Ashley, 31, and Latoya, 29, first started asking questions earlier this year after a friend of Ashley’s late mother recognized Latoya’s father in a Facebook photo.
She pointed out that Kenneth had known Ashley’s mother years ago when they were much younger.
When Latoya asked her father if and how he knew Ashley’s mother, Kenneth recognized her from a photo, mentioning that the pair shared a brief romantic fling decades ago.
That information immediately prompted him and the two young women to split the cost of a DNA test — money that Kenneth told Good Morning America was “the best $100 I ever spent.”
The news came as a shock to everyone, along with some mixed feelings of sorrow that all this time, nobody knew Ashley’s biological father was right before her eyes and that her best friend was also her sister.
“The first few nights I couldn’t go to sleep,” Ashley told GMA. “I’m happy that she’s my sister but had some emotions that this guy I’ve been around this whole time, I never knew he was my father.”
Kenneth also felt bad that he never knew the truth about Ashley’s identity until now.
“As a father, I’ve always been there and I’ve always raised my children and this deprived Ashley of having me in her life to raise her,” he told GMA. “I just feel so bad for her but we can’t undo what happened.”
As a friend and a sister, Latoya also shares the pain of the truth about her family that had been concealed for so long.
“I watched Ashley go through so many things growing up and now all I can think about is that her father was here and he could have been there for her just like he was for me,” Latoya told CNN.
The women have five children between them who are close friends, and now cousins, and will grow up knowing that Kenneth is their grandfather.
“I’ve always seen the little ones around and this entire time they were my grandchildren and I didn’t even know,” he told CNN.
He is committed to being there for his grandchildren and both daughters as they walk forward on this new and delicate journey.
“I’ll definitely be in their lives as a grandfather,” Kenneth told GMA. “We just try to move forward.”
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