When Steve Harvey was in sixth grade, his teacher gave the class an assignment: Write down what you want to be when you grow up. Harvey, who had a severe stutter at the time, wrote that he wanted to be on TV.
Upon collecting the assignments, Harvey’s teacher thought his dream was absurd, especially for a boy who didn’t talk like everyone else. Believing that Harvey didn’t take the assignment seriously, the teacher called him up to the front of the class and tore into his answer. She then called Harvey’s parents to report that he was being a “smart aleck” at school.
When Harvey arrived home that day, he knew he’d be punished for what his teacher perceived as him acting out. But while Harvey’s mother was certainly upset by what Harvey had written, his father was not.
“My father said, ‘Well, what’s wrong with that?’” Harvey recalls in the above clip from “Oprah’s Master Class.”
While his parents began to argue, Harvey was sent to his room. When his father came in, he told Harvey what to do with the paper.
″[He said,] ‘Take your paper and put it in your drawer. Every morning when you get up, read your paper. And every night before you go to bed, read your paper. That’s your paper,’” Harvey says. “What he told me was a principle of success, that if you write it down and envision it, anything you can see in your mind, you can hold in your hand.”
Many years later, after Harvey had found success in the entertainment industry, he still thought about that sixth-grade teacher.
“Every year when the teacher was living, I used to send her a TV for Christmas,” Harvey says. ”’Cause I wanted her to see me.”
Harvey also kept his original paper close by as he made his way through the comedy clubs and the ups and downs of his career, reminding himself of what all the hard work, sacrifice and years of homelessness were all for.
“That little boy with the stuttering problem is on TV, seven days a week,” Harvey says, growing emotional. “Yeah. I’m on TV. All the time. You dig?”
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