Phil Harris's Sons Are Adding to His Legacy, and Their Own, Well After His Death

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Jul. 6 2021, Published 5:27 p.m. ET

Deadliest Catch is a reality series that stands the test of time, and there are several reasons for its success. It has always, more or less, stayed true to the "thesis" of the show: the haul. Sure, each member of the crew is getting paid a salary to appear on the series; however, they're bona fide fisherman who are obsessed with getting as ginormous of a catch as they possibly can. It's this intriguing premise, with a great assortment of cast members — like Phil Harris and his sons — that has kept the series thriving for so long.

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After Phil's death, his sons, Josh and Jake Harris, helped to keep the show running.

While every Deadliest Catch fan has their favorite personality from the series, Captain Phil Harris is considered one of the OGs of the series and was beloved by many. He didn't shy away from his flaws, but his passion for his job shone through in the series. Unfortunately, many speculate that his bad habits ultimately caught up with him and contributed to his passing on Feb. 9, 2010.

Per People, those close to Phil said he would drink Red Bull by the case along with entire pots of coffee. He also smoked cigarettes and consumed high-calorie meals.

On Jan. 29, 2010, Steve Ward, engineer for the Cornelia Marie vessel, found Phil on the floor of his room. Phil slipped into paralysis and a coma, but was able to come out of it to spend his final days with close friends and family members.

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Josh Harris spoke with Fox News about his dad's final moments before passing and the message that he left him and his brother, Jake. Phil wrote on a napkin, "You've got to finish the story. It needs an ending." Years later, it appears that the two are making good on that promise, as they've both heavily appeared on Deadliest Catch and battled their own personal problems in the process.

Josh and Jake coped with their father's loss in different ways.

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Jake pled guilty to possession of heroin with the intention to distribute in 2019 and was sentenced to 18 months behind bars. Jake also battled with substance abuse, particularly opioids, an addiction that he says began in his youth after hurting himself skating. He took to opiates to help numb the pain of his injuries, and would use the substance off and on.

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The passing of his father, Phil, didn't exactly help and he found himself turning right back to drugs and alcohol as a result. Jake seems to have cleaned up enough, however, to appear in recent episodes of Deadliest Catch along with the spinoff series, Deadliest Catch: Bloodline.

Josh and Jake both worked together to pen a biography of their father after his passing, but didn't paint a perfect portrait of Phil Harris in the process.

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The biography includes some of the more unsavory details of Phil's life including the fact that there were long stretches of time where Josh and Jake didn't really speak with their father. However, they were proud of the work ethic he instilled in them.

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For Phil Harris and his sons, being fishermen has become a life-defining journey.

After Phil Harris passed away, Josh and Jake were resolved to buy the boat he spent so much of his life on, the Cornelia Marie. It was a long road filled with obstacles for the duo, but they were able to secure majority ownership of the vessel, along with Roger Thomas and Kari Toivola.

You can watch new episodes of Deadliest Catch on Discovery Channel on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. EST.

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