Benjamin Carson was born in Detroit, Michigan. His mother Sonya had dropped out of school in the third grade, and married when she was only 13. When Benjamin Carson was only eight, his parents divorced, and Mrs. Carson was left to raise Benjamin and his older brother Curtis on her own. She worked at two, sometimes three, jobs at a time to provide for her boys. Ben Carson experience difficulty in school causing him to fall to the bottom of his class. He became the object of name-calling such as stupid,and subsequently developed a violent, uncontrollable temper. Determined to turn her son's life around, Carson's mother limited his television-watching and refused to let him go outside to play until he had finished his homework each day. She required him to read two library books a week and to give her written reports on his reading, even though, with her own poor education, she could barely read what he had written. Then he became to realize that he wasn't stupid and continued to amaze his classmates with his new-found knowledge and within a year he was at the top of his class.
The hunger for knowledge had taken hold of him, and he began to read voraciously on all subjects. He determined to become a physician, and he learned to control the violent temper that still threatened his future. After graduating with honors from his high school, he attended Yale University, where he earned a degree in Psychology. From Yale, he went to the Medical School of the University of Michigan, where his interest shifted from psychiatry to neurosurgery. His excellent hand-eye coordination and three-dimensional reasoning skills made him a superior surgeon. After medical school he became a neurosurgery resident at the world-famous Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. At age 32, he became the hospital's Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery.
Ben has received numerous honors and many awards over the years, including over 40 honorary doctorate degrees. He was also a member of the American Academy of Achievement, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, the Yale Corporation (the governing body of Yale University). He sits on many boards including the Board of Directors of Kellogg Company, Costco Wholesale Corporation, and America's Promise. He was also the president and co-founder of the Carson Scholars Fund, which recognizes young people of all backgrounds for exceptional academic and humanitarian accomplishments. Dr. Carson is in constant demand as a public speaker, and devotes much of his time to meeting with groups of young people. In 2001, Carson was named by CNN and Time as one of the nationís 20 foremost physicians and scientists. That same year, he was selected by the Library of Congress as one of 89 Living Legends on the occasion of its 200th anniversary. He is also the recipient of the 2006 Spingarn Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the NAACP. In February 2008, Carson was presented with the Fordís Theatre Lincoln Medal by President Bush at the White House. On June 19,2008 the White House announced that Benjamin Carson would receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.
In 1987, Carson made medical history with an operation to separate a pair of Siamese twins. The Binder twins were born joined at the back of the head. Operations to separate twins joined in this way had always failed, resulting in the death of one or both of the infants. Carson agreed to undertake the operation. A 70-member surgical team, led by Dr. Carson, worked for 22 hours. At the end, the twins were successfully separated and can now survive independently. Carson's other surgical innovations have included the first intra-uterine procedure to relieve pressure on the brain of a hydrocephalic fetal twin, and a hemispherectomy. This is an infant who is suffering from uncontrollable seizures and has half of its brain removed. This stops the seizures, and the remaining half of the brain actually compensates for the missing hemisphere.