Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men. Proverbs 22:29
Terrence Howard is a success. He is successful because he continues to press on even against the odds. He is tough. This tough-guy stance and the notion of never backing down—even at great cost—was imprinted in Howard from a young age. On December 21, 1971, standing in line to meet Santa at a Cleveland department store, 2-year-old Terrence watched his father, Tyrone, a contractor, kill a man. “I remember all of that,” he says softly. “That’s a painful thing to talk about.” The incident started as an argument about who was next in line. Tyrone and another father, exhausted from an hour-and-a-quarter wait and worried about their children and pregnant wives, lashed out. As the other man tried to choke him, Tyrone grabbed a nail file and stabbed him several times. Charged with manslaughter, he was sent to prison for 11 months in a notorious case called the “Santa Line killing.”
For most of his career, Howard was pretty much the kind of kid you did not want to hire; it was (and still is) his way or no way. Years ago, for example, he read for a movie about the Motown group the Temptations. “[I was] told to prepare two scenes,” Howard recalls. “I’m halfway through the first scene, and the director is already looking at the next guy’s résumé, and he says, ‘Thank you.’ The monster came over me at that moment, and I said, ‘Excuse me. Thank you for what? Normally, when somebody says thank you, it’s because you’ve done something that is so incredible they cannot help but express their appreciation. Now I’m wondering what I did that was so wonderful that made you interrupt me in the middle of my performance? If you want me to leave, then you say so.’ I got my stuff together and left, and they never called me back in again. I don’t know that director’s name to this day, but I bet you he knows mine.” Terrence realizes he has a calling on his life.
Howard shows us a more personal side as he gets emotional while speaking about the loss of his mother:
I loved my mother dearly, more than anything. I miss her voice and the way she used to sing to me. She is an irreplaceable woman and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her. I lost my mom to colon cancer after a six-year-hard fought battle with the disease. She died too young. She was diagnosed at age 50 and gone by 56.
My mom was a woman of incredible strength. She shaped me to be the person I am today and I am forever grateful to her. While I hate that I’ve lost her, she would love to know that her death — her battle with colon cancer — is able to save other lives.
In honor of my kind and gentle mom, I have joined with The Colon Cancer Alliance to share my story and encourage you and your loved ones to get screened appropriately for this disease. It’s a cancer that is largely preventable if detected early. Recommended screening starts at age 50, however looking back, my mom probably should have been placed in a high-risk category and should have started screenings earlier. If she had, she might have been alive today.
Now, at the close of what many may call his most successful moment in life, we realize that he is set apart to do good. He is holding steadfast. Terrence realizes he was set apart to do good. This is exactly what makes him playing the complicated multi-faceted Lucious Lyon believable. It’s not a stretch. We should all begin life with a determination to do well whatever we take in hand. Terrence set forth out tragedy. He goes forth having embraced more tragedy.
How are you focused? What drives you to set and stand steadfast?
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