Ben Carson Fast Facts


CNN  — 

Here is a look at the life of former US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and a former presidential candidate.

Birth date: September 18, 1951

Birth place: Detroit, Michigan

Birth name: Benjamin Solomon Carson

Father: Robert Carson, auto factory worker

Mother: Sonya (Copeland) Carson, domestic worker

Marriage: Lacena “Candy” (Rustin) Carson (July 1975-present)

Children: Murray, Benjamin Jr and Rhoeyce

Education: Yale University, B.A. in Psychology, 1973; University of Michigan School of Medicine, M.D., 1977

Religion: Seventh Day Adventist

When Carson became the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins at age 33, he was the youngest person to head a major division in the hospital’s history.

His parents separated when he was 8, after it was revealed his father was a bigamist. He and his brother were raised by their mother.

Carson admits that he had a violent temper in his youth, and says one of the defining moments of his life occurred when he was 14. Carson attempted to stab a schoolmate, but luckily the boy’s belt buckle blocked the knife. After praying for three hours, Carson “came to an understanding that to lash out at people is not a sign of strength, it was a sign of weakness.”

Known for offering provocative commentary on a wide range of issues, including comparing the modern American government to Nazi Germany in a March 2014 interview with Breitbart, and at the 2013 Values Voters Summit, saying that Obamacare is “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.”

1977-1978 – Intern in general surgery at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

1978-1982 – Completes his neurosurgery residency at Johns Hopkins.

1982-1983 – Chief neurosurgery resident at Johns Hopkins.

1983-1984 – Senior registrar in neurosurgery at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth, Australia.

1984-2013 – Director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

1987 – Primary neurosurgeon on team that performs the first successful surgery to separate conjoined twins connected at the back of the head (occipital craniopagus twins).

1990 – Carson’s best-selling autobiography, “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story,” is published.

1994 – Founds the Carson Scholars Fund with his wife, which facilitates leisure reading for children and funds college scholarships for students with strong academics and humanitarian achievement.

1997 – Primary neurosurgeon on the team that performs the first fully successful surgery to separate Type 2 vertical craniopagus twins (joined at the top of the head and facing opposite directions), where both twins survive and are neurologically normal.

2002 – Co-founds the Benevolent Endowment Network (BEN) Fund, which provides financial support for the medical expenses of pediatric neurosurgery patients.

August 2002 – Undergoes surgery for prostate cancer. He is later declared cancer-free.

2004 – Named by President George W. Bush to the President’s Council on Bioethics.

June 19, 2008 – Receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bush.

February 7, 2009 – Cuba Gooding Jr. plays Carson in the made-for-television movie, “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story.”

February 7, 2013 – Gains national attention after he criticizes Democratic policies on taxes and healthcare during his keynote address at the National Prayer Breakfast.

July 1, 2013 – Retires from Johns Hopkins as director of pediatric neurosurgery, professor and co-director of the Craniofacial Center.

October 2013-November 2014 – Contributor for Fox News.

November 2014 – Officially switches his party affiliation from registered Independent to Republican, a move he later acknowledges was spurred on by a possible presidential run.

March 4, 2015 – On CNN’s “New Day,” Carson asserts that homosexuality is a choice because people “go into prison straight – and when they come out, they’re gay.” He later apologizes for his comments, but says that the science is still murky on the issue.

May 4, 2015 – Formally announces his candidacy for US president in his hometown of Detroit.

March 2, 2016 – After a disappointing finish on Super Tuesday, Carson announces he doesn’t “see a political path forward” in the Republican presidential nomination process, and will not attend the upcoming GOP presidential debate in Detroit.

March 4, 2016 – In a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference gathering in National Harbor, Maryland, Carson officially ends his presidential campaign and reveals his next move: becoming the national chairman of My Faith Votes, a group focused on getting out the Christian vote in November.

March 11, 2016 – Carson announces his endorsement of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.

November 15, 2016 – A close Carson adviser tells CNN that Carson has declined an offer from President-elect Trump to join his cabinet as secretary of Health and Human Services.

December 5, 2016 – The Trump transition team announces Carson will be nominated as the next secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

March 2, 2017 – Carson is confirmed as HUD secretary with a 58-41 vote in the Senate.

February 2018 – CNN obtains a November 2017 complaint from HUD’s former chief administration officer, who said she was told to “find money” beyond the legal $5,000 limit for redecorating Carson’s office. Soon after, it is revealed that HUD spent $31,000 to replace a dining room set for the office. Carson says in a statement to CNN that he was “surprised” about the order and had it canceled.

May 16, 2019 – In a letter to Congress, the Government Accountability Office’s general counsel says HUD broke the law when it spent about $40,000 in 2017 for a new dining set and dishwasher for Carson’s office.

September 12, 2019 – HUD’s internal watchdog clears Carson of wrongdoing for his plan to purchase a $31,000 dining set without notifying Congress.

November 9, 2020 – HUD Deputy Chief of Staff Coalter Baker releases a statement that Carson has tested positive for the coronavirus. “He is in good spirits and feels fortunate to have access to effective therapeutics which aid and markedly speed his recovery.”

May 17, 2022 – Carson’s book “Created Equal: The Painful Past, Confusing Present, and Hopeful Future of Race in America,” is published.