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Millionaire Chris Gardner whose life became the movie- “The Pursuit of Happyness”

Millionaire Chris Gardner whose life became the movie- “The Pursuit of Happyness”

Chris Gardner is a $70 million net-worth American entrepreneur, author, motivational speaker, and investor. Chris Gardner’s life story was popularised by the film “The Pursuit of Happ(y)ness,” starring Will Smith. Chris experienced a true “rags to riches” story, emerging from homelessness to become a multi-millionaire. He finally established a profitable brokerage firm.

Early Life:

Thomas Turner and Bettye Jean Gardner welcomed Chris Gardner into the world on February 9, 1954 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Bettye Jean had two children and Chris was the youngest and her only son. Ophelia, his older half-sister, is from a previous marriage. His mother’s marriage to Freddie Triplett gave birth to Sharon and Kimberly, his younger sisters.

Due to his father’s presence in Louisiana at the time of Gardner’s birth and his stepfather’s physical abuse of both his mother and his sisters, Gardner did not grow up with many strong male role models. Gardner and his sisters were continually scared of Triplett because of his outbursts of fury. When Triplett fraudulently accused Bettye Jean of welfare fraud, the situation resulted in her being imprisoned, and the kids were given to foster parents. When Gardner was eight years old, his mother was found guilty of attempting to kill Triplett by setting the house on fire while he was inside. As a result, Gardner and his sisters were placed in foster care once more.

Gardner met his three maternal uncles, Henry, Willie, and Archibald, for the first time while in foster care. Of the three, Henry had the most impact on Gardner because he came into his life at a time when he most needed a supportive father figure. Chris was nine years old when Henry, however, lost his life in the Mississippi River. When their mother came to Henry’s burial being led by a prison guard, the kids found out that their mother had been locked up.

Bettye Jean was a strong and good role model for her son Chris despite her very miserable marriage and extended absences. She planted the seeds of independence in Gardner by encouraging him to have confidence in himself. She is quoted by Gardner as saying, “Only you can rely on yourself. The cavalry is not coming.” Gardner also came to the conclusion from his early experiences that he wished to steer clear of alcoholism, domestic violence, child abuse, illiteracy, dread, and weakness in the future.


Gardner made the decision to join the military after completing his secondary education after being inspired by his Uncle Henry’s overseas exploits in the U.S. Navy. He served as a hospital corpsman at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina for four years while stationed there. Dr. Robert Ellis, a distinguished San Francisco cardiac surgeon he got to know, offered Gardner a job helping him with cutting-edge clinical research at the University of California Medical Center and Veterans Administration Hospital in San Francisco. When Gardner received his Navy discharge in 1974, he accepted the job offer and relocated to San Francisco. He gained knowledge of running a laboratory and various surgical procedures over the course of two years.

Following his discharge from the military in 1981, Gardner worked as a research lab assistant at UCSF and the Veterans’ Hospital. His salary as an assistant in a research lab was just approximately $8,000 per year, which was insufficient to support a live-in girlfriend and a child. After four years, he left these occupations and began working as a salesperson of medical equipment, where he doubled his income.


After making a sales visit to a San Francisco General Hospital, he saw a man in a red Ferrari who was immaculately dressed and driving. This experience proved to be a turning point in his life. Gardner was curious, so he inquired about the man’s occupation. Gardner’s career path was established when the man revealed to him that he worked as a stockbroker.

In Chicago, Illinois, Gardner founded Gardner Rich & Co. in 1987. This institutional brokerage firm specialises in the execution of debt, equity, and derivative products transactions for some of the biggest institutions, public pension systems, and unions in the country. With $10,000 in startup funds and just one piece of furniture—a wooden desk that served as the family dining table—he launched his new business in his compact Presidential Towers apartment.

The “Rich” in the name of the company was meant to honour commodities trader Marc Rich, who had no link to the business and was someone Gardner had never met, but who Gardner regarded as “one of the most successful futures traders in the world.” Gardner founded and served as the CEO of Christopher Gardner International Holdings, which has offices in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, after selling his little ownership in Gardner Rich in a multimillion-dollar deal in 2006. Nelson Mandela and Gardner had a meeting to discuss potential investments in South Africa’s emerging markets while Gardner was in South Africa to monitor elections around the time of the 10th anniversary of the end of apartheid. There, Gardner had plans to invest, hoping to bring millions of dollars in foreign money and hundreds of jobs to the nation. Invoking securities rules, Gardner has chosen not to reveal any information about the initiative.

Personal Life:

Chris Gardner wed Sherry Dyson, a Virginia native and math teaching specialist, on June 18, 1977. He started an affair with Jackie Medina, a dentistry student, while still living with Sherry, and she became pregnant with his child just a few months later. He divorced Sherry after three years of marriage in order to live with Jackie and got ready to become a father. He and Sherry were separated for nine years before getting a divorce in 1986. Christopher Jarrett Gardner Jr., his son, was born on January 28, 1981.

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