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Actor Captures Ben Carson’s Persona
A new TV drama chronicles the unlikely career of Hopkins’ beloved director of pediatric neurosurgery.


Cuba Gooding Jr. portrays Ben Carson.
Cuba Gooding Jr. portrays Ben Carson.

Oscar-winner Cuba Gooding Jr. stars in the upcoming TNT movie Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, which premieres Feb. 7. Based on the best-selling 1996 memoir of Benjamin S. Carson Sr., director of pediatric neurosurgery at Hopkins Children’s, the movie traces his life journey from Detroit’s inner city to his career as a brain surgeon at Johns Hopkins.

Crafted with Cecil Murphy, the memoir begins with his childhood on the streets of Detroit in the 1950s and 1960s.  Carson faced difficulties early on, when his father abandoned the family. “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my mother,” he says of Sonja Carson, who pushed her sons to discover the pleasures and power of an education. Carson recalls her repeated words: “Bennie, if you can read, honey, you can learn just about anything you want to know. The doors of the world are open to people who can read.”

With a new pair of glasses and encouragement to spend time at his local library, young Carson dived into the world of books. His scholastic performance improved dramatically. He went on to Yale University and the University of Michigan School of Medicine, refusing to give up on the dream he and his mother had for his future, even when negative peer pressure threatened to stand in his way.

Today the author of four books, Carson maintains a full surgical practice at Johns Hopkins and devotes unlimited energy to helping young people overcome their medical limitations and fulfill their dreams. His well-attended “Think Big ” presentations at Johns Hopkins are open to the public, by reservation.

In June 2008, Carson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush. The White House honored him for working throughout his career “to improve the lives of those suffering from neurological disorders.  His groundbreaking contributions to medicine and his inspiring efforts to help America’s youth fulfill their potential have strengthened our nation.”

Cuba Gooding Jr. most recently appeared opposite Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe in Ridley Scott’s American Gangster. Gooding received an Academy Award for his dynamic, breakthrough performance in Jerry Maguire, for which he also received a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Golden Globe nomination.  He is a six-time nominee for the NAACP Image Award, an honor he won for his performance in the drama Radio.

For a short video on Carson and his achievements, visit the Carson Scholars Fund (, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity that he and his wife, Candy, founded in 1994 to recognize and reward students in grades four to 11 who strive for academic excellence (3.75 GPA or higher) and demonstrate a strong commitment to their community.

–Kim Hoppe



Johns Hopkins Medicine

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