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Ben Carson overcame his troubled youth in inner-city Detroit to become a gifted neurosurgeon famous for his work separating conjoined twins.
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Ben Carson was born in Detroit, Michigan, on September 18, 1951. His mother, though undereducated herself, pushed her sons to read and to believe in themselves. Carson went from being a poor student to receiving honors and he eventually attended medical school. As a doctor, he became the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital at age 33, and became famous for his ground-breaking work separating conjoined twins.
Benjamin Solomon Carson was born in Detroit, Michigan, on September 18, 1951. The second son of Sonya and Robert Solomon Carson, Ben grew up in the hardened climate of inner-city Detroit. Ben's mother was raised in Tennessee in a very large family. She dropped out of school in the third grade.
With not much hope or prospects in life, she married Baptist minister Robert Carson when she was 13, believing that he would change her life. The couple moved to Detroit, Michigan, and for a time, the marriage was a success. Carson showered his wife with gifts and attention. But over time, Robert Carson changed. Though benevolent, he could also be domineering and erratic. In time, Sonya felt it was best for her sons if she and Robert divorced.
Ben was 8 and Curtis, Ben's brother, was 10 when Sonya was left to raise the children on her own. The family was very poor, and to make ends meet Sonya sometimes took on two or three jobs at a time in order to provide for her boys. Most of the jobs she had were as a domestic servant. There were occasions when her boys wouldn't see her for days at a time, because she would go to work at 5:00 a.m. and come home around 11:00 p.m., going from one job to the next.
Carson's mother was frugal with the family's finances, cleaning and patching clothes from the Goodwill in order to dress the boys. The family would also go to local farmers and offer to pick corn or other vegetables in exchange for a portion of the yield. She would then can the produce for the kids' meals. Her actions, and the way she managed the family, proved to be a tremendous influence on Ben and Curtis.
Sonya also taught her boys that anything was possible. By his recollection many years later, Ben Carson had thoughts of a career in medicine, though it was more of a fantasy many young children harbor as they grow up. Because his family was on medical assistance, they would have to wait for hours to be seen by one of the interns at the hospital. Ben would listen to the pulse of the hospital as doctors and nurses went about their routines.
Occasionally, there'd be an emergency and he could hear in people's voices and in their quick movements the pace and emotions rise to meet the challenge. He'd hear the PA system call for a "Dr. Jones" and fantasized that one day they'd be calling for a "Dr. Carson."
Both Ben and his brother experienced difficulty in school. Ben fell to the bottom of his class, and became the object of ridicule by his classmates. He developed a violent and uncontrollable temper, and was known to attack other children at the slightest provocation.
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