Christopher Gardner: Once a Divorced and Homeless Broker Who Became One of The Most Inspirational Men Ever Lived!


Christopher Paul Gardner, or just- Chris Gardener is an American businessman, investor, stockbroker, motivational speaker, author, and philanthropist.

During the early 1980s, the now-billionaire struggled with homelessness while raising his toddler son, Christopher Gardner, Jr.

So in this article, let us dig into his life and see what’s in it for any inspiration:

Birth and Childhood

Gardner was surrogate born in Milwaukee on February 9, 1954, to Thomas Turner and Bettye Jean Gardner along with three non-biological sisters as siblings.

But in his entire childhood, Gardner did not have many positive male role models as a child, as his biological father was living in Louisiana during his birth, and his stepfather was physically abusive to both his mother and his sisters. Triplett’s fits of rage made both Gardner and his sisters constantly afraid.

His stepfather’s violent nature always made Turner feared and developed him an inferiority complex inside. Eventually, due to lack of parenthood, Gardner and his sisters were shifted to a foster care.

In that foster care, Gardner was (for the first time) acquainted with his three maternal uncles: Archibald, Willie, and Henry. Of the three, Henry had the most profound influence on him, entering Gardner’s world at a time when he most needed a positive father figure. However, Henry drowned in the Mississippi River when Chris was nine years old.

Out of those three, Henry had the most positive influence on him. He served Gardner as the much-required father figure and defended him at a time when he needed such care the most.

Garderner mother was found to be convicted in charge of her (violent) husband’s killing. But Gardner doesn’t blame her entirely as he quotes her saying-

She said to us- You can only depend on yourself. The cavalry ain’t coming.

However, on a better note, all these miseries and hardships, formed Gardner’s basic character and ethics in life. He also determined pretty early in life that he must avoid stuff like alcohol, domestic abuse, child abuse, illiteracy, fear, and powerlessness in the future.

Later, he joined the US Navy but moved to San Francisco upon his discharge in 1974.

Family, Failures, and Struggle

Chris Gardner later became a general physician and was married to Sherry Dyson, a Virginia native on June 18, 1977.

She was beautiful! I saw her coming to me in the wedding. I was standing mocked at the isle. She was beautiful!

But, later their marriage turned sour as domestic disputes started to happen quite often.

A few days before his 26th birthday, Gardner informed his wife, Sherry, that he no longer wants to stay a physician.

In part because of his decision to abandon a settled medical career along with the significant differences in their behavior, his relationship with Sherry was detached.

To escape his worsening he began an affair with a dental student named Jackie Medina, whom he got pregnant only a few months into the affair.

And, finally, after three years of his first marriage, he left her to live-in with Jackie and to prepare for fatherhood. Nine years later, he and Sherry got legally divorced in 1986.

Then, he started work as a trainee stockbroker. Then he appeared at the office ready to work, only to discover that his hiring manager had been fired the week before. To make matters worse, Gardner’s relationship with Jackie was falling apart too.

According to Gardner,

Once Jackie was running away with our son and I attempted to take the child back, but in the process swung Jackie into the garden bushes, which resulted in her being scratched.

I was apprehended initially for this incident, but an identity check on my car license plate led them to detain me for non-payment of parking fines.

And by that he was a broke, homeless and hungry man, having nothing substantial in his hand to sustain his living, not even his own family!



After several months of cruel striving and handpicking, Gardner finally got the reins of his fate in his control when with some saved money, Gardner established the brokerage firm, Gardner Rich & Co, in Chicago, Illinois in 1987.He turned the start-up into a profitable venture by 1991 and kept increasing the year-on-year margins.

He worked twenty hours a day and raised his son single-handedly at the same time.

In 2002, Gardner received the Father of the Year Award from the NFI. He also receive the 25th Annual Humanitarian Award from the Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women (LACAAW), and the 2006 Friends of Africa Award from the Continental Africa Chamber of Commerce.

And, if you’re still wondering about ‘this-story-sounds-familiar’, let us now enlighten you that it is only Chris Gardens upon whom the biographic novel and the blockbuster motion picture named The Pursuit of Happiness was made. In the movie, Chris’ role was portrayed by Will Smith and it is still one of most inspirational stories ever told in the history of Hollywood!

This life teaches us that success only comes to us when we seek happiness and keep seeking it. Even in the darkest of day, Chris didn’t lose hope and now his inspirational story is a case-study to many.

As the man says himself-

Always, always pursue happiness.

(Photo Credit:  Claire Greenway)