A common problem I’m faced with, as a mentor to students with special needs is that a majority of them are a victim of bullying. To help with that I’ve often told them about celebrities who have overcome bullying in their childhoods. People such as Bruno Mars and Jennifer Lawrence for that reason have become inspirations to them. Then, a movie came out called ‘Central Intelligence’ starring The Rock and Kevin Hart that many of my mentees were inspired by the underlying message of the film in that you shouldn’t bully others.

Because of this, when I hard Kevin Hart was coming into town I wanted to meet him in the hopes of telling him how this film had made an impact on my mentees.

But then something I wasn’t expecting happened.

Kevin Hart, who I met at a book signing for his new book said when he arrived in that NYC bookstore,

“I’m the person that dealt with the word no for a long time. I’m the person that dealt with a lot of negativity and adversity that people don’t know about. I wanted to share this story so you guys could understand that regardless of your position in life, you’re human. One of the things I did was never give up on my dream.”

“One of the things I did was never give up on my dream.” – Kevin Hart #NeverGiveUp

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To hear him say that truly resonated with me. Growing up on the autism spectrum I was often told the word ‘no.’ I was often told growing up that I couldn’t achieve amazing things in my life because of my disability. Although our paths were different, I can now say as someone who has lived his dream of being an international motivational speaker, I’ve been able to live my dreams today just like Kevin.

When I got to meet him I was absolutely speechless. He met me with open arms, giving me a hug, asking me about my story and then taking a photo with me to boot. I told him first about how I was told, just like him that I couldn’t things in my life but I preserved and I told him I could achieve greatness in my life. The three words he said to me that still resonate after I said that were….

“Yes you can.”

For a celebrity like Kevin, to look me dead in the eye and tell me that I could do amazing things in my life truly meant the world to me. While I continued to speak with him and told him how he inspired my mentees he said, “That’s the greatest compliment I could ever ask to receive.”

It’s people like Kevin who truly made me realize the power of humility. Kevin, who had hundreds of people out to see him that night gave me the time to talk with him. He didn’t rush me off and every minute I spoke with him he was actively listening to me like I was a dear friend who had known in him for decades.

To Kevin, I thank you for treating me not only as a fan, but a friend in that moment. I hope we can only to continue to pursue our dreams in the future. You bring so much laughter and joy to so many people and I can only hope to bring love and inclusion for our community. I can’t thank you enough.