Ben Carson was born in Detroit, Michigan, on September 18, 1951.
His mother Sonya, though undereducated herself, pushed her sons to read and to believe in themselves. Carson went from a poor student to an honors one, going on to medical school and becoming Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital at age 33. He became famous for his ground-breaking work separating conjoined twins.
Ben was eight 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 AM and come home around 11:00 PM, going from one job to the next. She 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.