What you didn't know about Joe Biden

Joe Biden became a household name when Barack Obama selected him to be his running mate in 2008. At the time, and even to this day, many people didn't realize that, beneath the Ray Bans, was man who lived a complicated, often tragic life. Now that the vice presidential torch has been passed to Mike Pence, we're taking a look back to reveal things you may not know about Joe Biden.

He loves his corvette

The Onion famously parodied Biden in 2009 when they depicted him washing a Trans Am shirtless in the White House driveway. Although the article didn't quite nail Biden's persona—"You think I'd drive a Trans Am?" he quipped to Car and Driver magazine—it turns out he really is a car fanatic.

"I bought a '51 Studebaker. My dad thought it was nice and calm, but it had that overdrive, and it was fast," he told Car and Driver. "Then I bought a 1952 Plymouth convertible, candy-apple red with a split windshield. I think that was my favorite. I had a '56 Chevy, then in college I bought a 100,000-mile Mercedes 190SL with those Solex carburetors that never functioned. And I still have my 1967 Goodwood-green Corvette, 327, 350-horse, with a rear-axle ratio that really gets up and goes."

Unfortunately for Biden, he wasn't actually allowed to drive while in the White House. "The Secret Service won't let me drive it," he said of his beloved convertible. "I'm not allowed to drive anything. It's the one thing I hate about this job. I'm serious." In fact, the only time he was able to get permission to drive it was at the end of his second term, for an episode of Jay Leno's Garage, of all things.

He has an uncommon middle name

Here's a fun fact that will likely win you points at your next trivia night: Biden's middle name is Robinette. It's a little offbeat, and a little feminine, but there also happens to be a lot of history behind it.

"It's my grandmother Biden's maiden name," he told C-SPAN (via New York magazine). "It's French. And it goes back a long, long way. Allegedly, the Robinettes came over with Lafayette and never went home. I don't know that. We can't guarantee that."

He used to stutter

You might find it hard to believe that a man has eloquent as former Vice President Joe Biden grew up with a stutter, but such was the case. To overcome it, Biden said he "would look in the mirror [of his bedroom] and … repeat over and over again [the words of W.B.] Yeats and [Ralph Waldo] Emerson." "When you stutter, it's the most debilitating thing," Biden said on an episode of The View, adding that he didn't gain confidence in his speaking abilities until he began taking public speaking classes in college.

The experience of having a stutter would go on to play a role in Biden's life in public office. Though reluctant at first, he eventually worked with the American Institute for Stuttering. He also helped a young boy overcome his own stutter by writing an inspirational letter to him in 1994. According to TIME, the boy took his letter to heart and grew up to be a prosecutor in Biden's home state of Delaware. He was also sworn in by Biden's late son, Beau, which… excuse us while we go cry, now.

He nearly died

According to CNN, Biden nearly died after suffering from two brain aneurysms in 1988, one of which was so severe that a priest was brought in to read him his last rights. "I had two cranial aneurysms, and they literally had to take the top of my head off," Biden said at the White House National Conference on Mental Health (via CNS News). "I mean, they take a saw and they cut your head off, and go in to find the artery that is—one was leaking, the other that hadn't, before it burst."

He continued, "One of the fascinating things is, that the second operation, after the first one, which was a bleed, and they gave me a relatively low chance of surviving. I remember going down [to the operating room], and asking the doc … 'Doc, what are my chances [of living]?' … He said, 'Well, they're in the 35 to 50 percent range.'"

Biden was also informed that, if everything went well, Biden may have trouble speaking. To which he thought: "'Why in the hell didn't they tell me this before [my 1998 campaign for president]?' It could have saved us all a lot of trouble, you know what I mean?" Hey: at least he can laugh about it now.

He doesn't drink

Although they are polar opposites politically, Biden and President Donald J. Trump do have one thing in common: neither one of them drinks alcohol. "There are enough alcoholics in my family," Biden explained to the New York Times. A friend of Biden's added that Biden's family had "more than their fare share" of alcohol-related issues while Joe was growing up.

He's faced tragedy

Biden has endured more family tragedies than most people will experience in their lives. Case in point: according to People magazine, his first wife, Neilia, and their 13-month-old daughter, Naomi, were killed in a horrific car accident in 1972, shortly after Biden was elected to the Senate for the first time.

"I remember looking up and saying, 'God,' as if I was talking to God myself, 'You can't be good, how can you be good?'" he remembered (via People). "For the first time in my life, I understood how someone could consciously decide to commit suicide. Not because they were deranged, not because they were nuts, because they had been to the top of the mountain, and they just knew in their heart they would never get there again."

Biden's two sons, Beau and Hunter, were also in the car and "badly injured" in the accident, according to the report. He was sworn into the Senate in 1973 at the bedside of Beau, who was still recovering from the accident.

His son's dying wish was for him to run for President

In another tragic turn of events, Joe lost Beau to a years-long battle with brain cancer in 2015. According to the New York Times, Beau's dying wish was to see his father run for President in 2016. "When Beau realized he was not going to make it, he asked his father if he had a minute to sit down and talk …," Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote. "Beau was losing his nouns and the right side of his face was partially paralyzed. But he had a mission: He tried to make his father promise to run, arguing that the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values."

Biden, of course, chose not to run. "Unfortunately, I believe we're out of time, the time necessary to mount a winning campaign for the nomination," Biden said, according to the Times. "But while I will not be a candidate, I will not be silent." According to CNN, Biden said his decision not to run left him with daily regret, but that "it was the right decision for my family and for me."

He's lifelong friends with John McCain

Despite being members of opposing political parties, Joe Biden and John McCain have been close friends for about 40 years, dating back to when McCain was a Navy Senate liaison. Their friendship has endured even the toughest of political climates. In fact, when McCain was sworn in to the Senate by Biden in January 2017, Biden declared, "I'm so glad you ran again, I really am." "May you well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which you are about to enter, so help you God. I have no doubt. Thank God you're here," he added, according to USA Today.

He was the first Roman Catholic Vice President

In 2009, Biden became the first Roman Catholic to serve as Vice President of the United States, according to NPR. Faith has reportedly played a key role in Biden's life, and has helped him to battle his many family tragedies, including the 2015 death of son Beau. "He has a rosary with him all the time and he uses it …," a friend told People magazine. "He'll never do it in front of people, though. Faith, family, and character are what has enabled him to survive these incredible tragedies."

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