The Calvary Ain’t Coming. You’ve Got To Do This Yourself.


Have you ever thought who would play you in a movie about your life? It’s hard to know whether or not Christopher Gardner visualized Will Smith as the star of his life story, but that is exactly what happened in the full-length feature film The Pursuit of Happyness. First a New York Times bestseller as an autobiography, the tale explores the incredible story of one man’ life to overcome a shattered childhood and grow into a successful father and provider. If you did not see the depiction of Gardner on the silver screen, or read about him in his book, you may have seen him featured on just about every major news show or in a nearly endless number of newspapers or magazines. No matter where you may have seen Chris Gardner, you probably found his story both heartbreaking and heart warming.

Part of Gardner’s story is his determination to provide a life for his children that was completely unlike the one he endured. Born Christopher Paul Gardner on February 8, 1954 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Gardner suffered much as a child. He endured poverty, violence, substance and sexual abuse, as well as family illiteracy. His father was not around and his mother and stepfather were deemed unfit to care for him. He was often forced to live in foster homes because of the instability faced at home. Despite her own troubles, which included time in jail, Gardner credits his mother Beyette Jean Triplett, for teaching him that he could overcome his background and accomplish great things in life. He also says his two children have assigned him very high expectations which he strives to live up to.

We were homeless, not hopeless. There’s a world of difference.

In the 1980s, Gardner became homeless while pursuing a career in finance because he could not afford a place to live on the small salary he earned while part of a training program. He was often unable to find refuge in homeless shelters, because most only allowed women and their children. However, through his commitment and a will to succeed, he was able to gain a full-time position as a stockbroker. Gardner is also an entrepreneur and runs his own company. He is also now a motivational speaker.

Because of his past, many of Gardner’s current humanitarian efforts involve helping the employed homeless population, which is estimated to consist of 18% of the current U.S. homeless population. He also makes an effort to do good deeds through children’s organizations, such as the International Rescue Committee, the National Education Association Foundation and the International Rescue Committee. For his work, Gardner has received many awards from several different organizations, including the NAACP, which honored him twice for The Pursuit of Happyness with an Image Award, both for the movie and the book.

While life is not always as it appears in Hollywood movies, the story of Christopher Gardner teaches the value of hard work and dedication to a goal, especially if that goal is to rise above the circumstances forced upon you by your upbringing.