Where Is Ben Carson From?

by Seth Millstein

Donald Trump is still the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, but only by a little bit — Ben Carson is nipping at his heels, and is now less than 6 points behind Trump. Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, has never held political office, and while some believe this is part of his appeal, it's also made him something of a mystery on the national stage. For example, because he's never been elected to office in one state or another, there's no obvious or intuitive way to figure out where Ben Carson is from.

Well, Carson grew up in Detroit, Michigan. His parents split up when he was 8 years old, at which point his mother Sonya single-handedly raised him and his brother, working multiple jobs to make ends meet. Despite these hardships, Carson managed to build a fantastically successful career for himself as a surgeon; thanks to his mother's strict work ethic, he pursued his deep interest in medicine with vigor, and became the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University, located in Baltimore, when he was just 33. He spent his undergrad years in Connecticut while he attended Yale, and returned to Michigan to complete his medical degree.

Nowadays, Carson is known primarily for his candidacy for the presidency, but it's worth noting that, for the vast majority of his career, he was a decidedly apolitical figure. His medical career is genuinely noteworthy in and of itself: Carson achieved worldwide recognition for his talents as a surgeon, which he chalks up to his three-dimensional reasoning skills, and to the extent that he was known publicly, it was for his memoir and other books.

Bryan Bedder/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

It wasn't until 2013 that Carson entered the arena of national politics. President Obama had invited him to speak at the National Prayer Breakfast; to the surprise of many, Carson used the opportunity to attack, in thinly-veiled language, the president's health care and tax policies. The speech got over 2 million views on YouTube, the Wall Street Journal's editorial board begged him to run for president, and just like that, Carson's political career was born.

Thanks to some late-breaking drama, Carson might skip the next GOP debate. He and Trump are upset at CNBC, which is hosting the debate, for eliminating opening and closing statements from the forum, and may boycott it unless there’s a rule change.