Long before Barack Obama was selling out stadiums to thousands of people who came to hear him speak, long before he won a seat in the US Senate, and long before he became the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama was a boy who became a man. Like any young man growing up, Barack Obama had many ups and downs. He also had an intricate life that unfolded over time that led him to become the most powerful man in the world. Born Barack Hussein Obama II on August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii, the biracial man has lived an extraordinary life. Barack Obama’s name means “one who is blessed” in Swahili. His childhood, like many however, was not blessed with a silver spoon and ease.
Obama was always a bright young man and was able to rise up and graduate from Columbia University. After Columbia, Obama impressively moved on to conquer Harvard Law School. There, he not only got his degree, he served as president of the Harvard Law Review; a precursor of grander things to come. Everyone knows about his dedication as a community organizer in Chicago. He also worked as a civil rights attorney and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School between 1992-2004. Then it was on to bigger things, serving three terms representing the 14th District in the Illinois Senate. In 2004, Barack Obama transcended the Illinois political scene and rose to national standing, capturing a seat in the US Senate for the state of Illinois. From there, he became nationally recognized and was vaulted right into the conversation for becoming a candidate for the US Presidency.
10. Dislikes Sagging Pants Style
Barack Obama has never been afraid to call people out. And when he did an interview with MTV, he went right after young African-American men in the world. Seeking to provide some guidance and direction, Obama pointed out how much he dislikes when young Black men wear sagging pants and show off their briefs. Obama did point out that there are actual laws that prohibit such displays but called them “a waste of time … having said that, brothers should pull up their pants. You are walking by your mother, your grandmother, your underwear is showing. What’s wrong with that? Come on. Some people might not want to see your underwear. I’m one of them.” Well put, sir.
9. Collected Comics
Everyone has different paths growing up. Barack Obama had a very normal childhood, sharing similar desires to just about any young kid. His grandmother created cute nicknames for him which included “Bear” and “Bar.” Barack Obama was a big fan of fantasy and comic books growing up. As a kid, Obama enjoyed collecting both Spider-Man and Conan the Barbarian comic book series. And just like any other kid, Obama needed a job to get by and pay some of the bills during his teenage years. He worked at Baskin-Robbins during that time to make some extra money. Ironically, these days, Obama admits he no longer is a fan of ice cream and in fact never eats the dessert. Apparently, he had a few too many sundaes growing up.
8. O’Bomber Is His Nickname On The Basketball Court
Barack Obama is a big sports fan. He has always been into basketball; his favorite sport. Back in his high school days, Obama was impressive at the game he loved. At 6’ 1”, Obama had just enough height to make a good impression on the court. He was known as “O’Bomber” during his days on the court, knocking down shots from all areas of the hardwood. Obama loves the sport of basketball so much, he had plans to install a basketball court on the White House grounds. He converted the tennis court into a tennis/basketball court, modernizing the grounds. But Obama is a fan of numerous sports. One of the greatest sports memorabilia he owns is a pair of boxing gloves owned by Muhammad Ali.
7. How Obama’s Parents Met
Barack Obama is biracial with a white mother and African father from Kenya. That part of the story is well documented. His parents met in 1960 in a Russian course at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. His father, who shared the same name, was a foreign student on scholarship at the school. Obama Sr. was both a Kenyan government official and a goat herder. His father was looking for an opportunity and a way to better himself. When Barack Sr. met Ann Dunham, they fell in love. Despite their parents being against a marriage, Ann and Barack Sr. got hitched while she was three months pregnant with the future President of the United States.
6. Raised By Step-Father And Mother In Indonesia
After just two years of marriage, Barack’s parents divorced. His father moved back to Kenya and got remarried. His mother moved on as well taking Barack with him. His mother remarried on March 15, 1965 to an Indonesian man, an East-West Center graduate student in geography at the University of Hawaii. Barack Obama Sr. would only visit his son once before he died in a car accident in Kenya in 1982. Barack Jr. was 21 at the time of his father’s death but had a poor relationship with the man who was responsible for his birth. Oceans and life separated the two men who shared the same namesake. While growing up in Indonesia, a young Obama attended local Indonesian-language school, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School for two years and Besuki Public School for a little over one year while being supplemented by English-language Calvert School and homeschooling by his mother.
5. The Choom Gang
Make no mistake about it, Barack Obama is one of the few Presidents who actually has admitted to using drugs while he was growing up. Obama doesn’t try to hide his drug use as other Presidents have outwardly lied to the public about it. In Obama’s 1995 memoir “Dreams of My Father,” the book talks about smoking pot almost like Dr. Seuss wrote about eating green eggs and ham. As a high school kid, the book reads, he (Obama) would smoke “in a white classmate’s sparkling new van;” he would smoke “in the dorm room of some brother;” and he would smoke “on the beach with a couple of Hawaiian kids.” Obama would smoke it here and there; he would smoke it anywhere. Obama referred to his group of pot smoking friends as the “Choom Gang.”
4. Life As An Architect
We all have choices to make in life. If we choose one path it leads down one road while if we choose another, it could lead down a different path. Barack Obama is a lawyer who had a talent in politics. He is a naturally gifted speaker who can inspire as well as empathize with any audience. These are natural gifts. But what would Obama being doing if politics hadn’t worked out? Obama talks about his desire to be an architect. The idea of creating beautiful structures is something that appeals to Obama. Clearly, he may never construct something akin to the Sistine Chapel, but there is certainly time after he retires to dabble in some future creations.
3. First President To Endorse Same-Sex Marriage
Barack Obama is the first U.S. president to endorse same-sex marriage, but did play the political game by saying the legal issue should be up to the states. Obama set this stage by repealing the “Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell” policy in the military. Obama ended the 1990s-era restriction and formalized new policy allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military for the first time. In addition to gay rights, Obama stepped up with numerous policy changes such as, increasing stem cell research, passing more environmental controls, allowing the FDA to regulate the tobacco industry and he changed torture policies.
2. Barack And Michelle’s First Date
On his first date with wife, Michelle, Barack Obama took the future First Lady to see the Spike Lee flick Do The Right Thing. Michelle joked that Barack’s “first car had so much rust that there was a rusted hole in the passenger door.” The two had met at their law firm, Sidley Austin. There were very few black associates at the firm. These two bonded when Michelle was assigned to mentor Barack during his time as a summer associate (I sense a “hot for teacher” moment). Their relationship started and blossomed with a business lunch. And then at a community organization meeting, Barack displayed his potential and impressed the future First Lady. From there, it was history.
1. Carries A Tiny Madonna And Child Statue
Barack Obama has worked hard to improve America’s standing in the world. He has both attempted to show an even hand while attacking terrorism when opportunities presented itself (we all know about the Osama Bin Laden tale). Obama scaled back troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan as everyone knows. He has attempted to present himself as a peacemaker in the world to the best of his ability in the face of increasing terroristic violence. Obama once said the three men he admired the most were Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, Jr.. To further his standing as a peacemaker, he was named Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” in 2008 and was then awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. For luck, Obama carries a tiny Madonna and child statue and a bracelet belonging to a soldier in Iraq. Whether you agree or disagree, Barack Obama has established himself as a man who endorses peace above war.