The Transformation Of Kevin Hart From Childhood To 42

Kevin Hart has already left a giant footprint on Hollywood. After rising up from pounding the pavement of the standup comedy circuit, he made big on the big screen with blockbuster hits like "Ride Along," "Think Like a Man," and "Jumanji." He's dabbled in reality shows, mostly about himself and his career, had a recent talk show, and delved into business ventures including his own production companies, Laugh Out Loud Products and Hartbeat Productions, which produced "Fatherhood," a streaming hit on Netflix.

But Hart's glow-up includes much more than telling jokes, acting, and taking meetings. Long before he became one of the most successful comedic performers on the planet, Hart was a comic who had to pay his dues. And before that, he was a kid who grew up in a family that endured a number of hardships. Through it all, though, his star just keeps getting brighter. Keep reading to learn all the details of the remarkable transformation of Kevin Hart from childhood to 42.

Humor got him through his troubled childhood

Kevin Hart is no stranger to childhood trauma, and he's been open about the ups and downs of his early years. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the comic gives all the credit for his upbringing to his mother, Nancy Hart, whom he considers a single mom for all intents and purposes. She worked hard to support Kevin and his brother, and money was tight. His father, Henry Witherspoon, struggled with addiction, was in and out of prison, and was rarely present in the home. As Kevin said in Variety, "He didn't escape any of it — jail, drugs, addictions, ruining your family to a point where my mom didn't want me and my brother to be around him." 

Kevin has said humor and a positive outlook helped him get through those years, and he learned early on that laughter brought his family together and provided a respite from their troubles. He told Howard Stern in 2016, "You can find positive in every negative, or you can treat every negative with a negative response." Even with the dark times, looking back, Kevin has no regrets and considers everything he went through what shaped the man he is today: content, hardworking, and successful. When Stern pressed that he must have some resentment over his childhood, Kevin replied emphatically, "I'm a happy guy."

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The early trials and tribulations of standup

Kevin Hart's easygoing attitude and quick timing led him down the road of standup comedy. And he wasn't afraid of the hard work that came with pounding the pavement in the standup circuit. As he expressed to Tony Robbins, he wasn't discouraged by the fact that his first time doing standup wasn't a hit. He said, "It didn't matter that the jokes weren't working. It was, I was in love with the fact that I was on the stage."

Standup was also a way for Hart to focus on the positive times in his childhood, like when his family would all gather around to listen to the comedy stylings of Eddie Murphy. He told Robbins, "The memories that I have that are all positive are associated with comedy. They're associated with laughter. So at a young age, I saw the power of laughter." This powerful memory along with the work ethic he got from his mother saw him through the less pleasant times on stage, including getting booed.

In 2019, he shared on "The Graham Norton Show" how he once told jokes at a crab fest, and another time at a male strip joint. Apparently, Hart wasn't as entertaining as the food and one patron let him know. Hart shared, "I remember this dude from the back, he was like, 'That's enough' and he just threw a buffalo wing at me and it landed and hit me in the cheek." One might say that guy really winged it that evening.

Finding the sweet spot in comedy

While getting pelted with a chicken wing might send most novice comics packing, Kevin Hart was far from discouraged. As he said on "The Howard Stern Show" in 2016, "I just don't like to lose, man. I'm not a guy that takes losing well." So, he kept at it and eventually, that determination paid off. What's more, he's embraced the not-so-glowing moments of his career. Looking back at his early days of comedy, he told Route, "[Y]ou've got to understand that it's all a learning experience. You know, you're going through the good, the bad and the ugly to get an understanding of just that."

According to Hart, self-esteem also plays a big role in his success. In 2014, he told Oprah Winfrey, "I'm confident in who I am. I'm confident in the person that I am. I think I'm sexy." And he isn't afraid to make himself the butt of his jokes. When Oprah asked if he was teased about his stature growing up, he replied, "I did it before they did. ... Anything that a person thinks they can say, I disarm you of it, by saying it myself."

Clearly, it all panned out. By 2001, Hart was performing at the Just For Laughs festival as an up-and-coming comedian. Reflecting on that particular gig, he told The Hollywood Reporter, "This is your moment to be seen and shine and come out of it with everything you could possibly want."

From the small stage to the big screen

It only took a few years of Kevin Hart standing behind the mic before we started seeing his face on screen, including a short stint on Judd Apatow's 2002 series "Undeclared." Once Hart made the jump from standup to TV and movies, it wasn't long before he seemed to be everywhere, appearing in such films as "Scary Movie 3" and "Scary Movie 4," "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," and "Fools Gold."

Like his standup routines, Hart worked to become better at his craft. While chatting with Men's Health about his success in 2014, he said, "I get a little more polished with every experience I have, and that's because I'm a sponge. Working with a guy like Ice Cube on 'Ride Along,' you learn so much." And before anyone could blink, Kevin Hart was commanding lead roles in blockbuster films like The "Wedding Ringer," "Central Intelligence," and "Jumanji," all while continuing to rock the standup comedy circuit.

Confidence aside, Hart looks at show business as just that: business. He told Esquire in 2016, "I'm learning it inside and out, and hopefully putting myself in a position to become a force to be reckoned with for quite some time." And how true that statement became.

Kevin Hart hit the road

Despite the fact that Kevin Hart was becoming a huge movie star, he couldn't turn his back on his first love: standup comedy. Hart believed hard work would help him balance a burgeoning movie career while sticking close to his comedy roots. So in 2009, he headed back to the stage and hit the road for his "I'm a Grown Little Man" tour. 

That choice proved to be a good one, because by 2016 he was breaking records. According to PR newswire, his "What Now?" tour, filmed at Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field, was the first time a comedian performed in a football stadium that was at capacity. The always cool Hart posted a video on Instagram, sharing his excitement for the night, saying, "I'm about set this b**** on fire, with y'all, Philadelphia. We got 84 cameras. I'm shooting a special with 84 cameras!"

Another record-breaker was Hart's "Irresponsible" tour, which began in September of 2017. Once again Hart made it personal, drawing in audiences with his autobiographical stories and quips. He told USA Today, "When you watch 'Irresponsible,' you know you're seeing an hour special about me." According to IQ Magazine more than one million tickets were sold, making it the highest-selling comedy tour of all time. Where do you go from there when you're a record-breaking comedian? Well, Hart will team up with another powerhouse comedian: Chris Rock. Rock took to Twitter recently to announce the dates for the tour aptly named: Rock Hart.

Kevin Hart had major marriage drama

Kevin Hart and his first wife, Torrei Hart, were college sweethearts. However, as Kevin's career ascent began, their relationship took a nosedive. According to his ex, Kevin started seeing his second wife, Eniko Parrish, while he was still married to Torrei. In a since-deleted tweet (via People), Parrish wrote, "Their marriage was broken way before I came in the picture. They were separated living in separate homes. I was never a secret." While his eight-year marriage to his first wife, with whom he shares two children, ended in 2011, Kevin didn't say "I do" with Parrish until 2016. He would go on to have two children with Parrish as well, and in 2017, Kevin cheated on Parrish while she was pregnant with their first child. 

The whole thing unfolded while Kevin was on the road. In Kevin Hart's "Don't F**K This Up" series, Parrish shared what she told her husband. "You publicly humiliated me. Like your whole... Everything's on Instagram. Everything's on social media." She talked about the daily fights while Kevin personally and publicly apologized for his actions. In the end, Parrish said, "We've been through it. We've gone through it. We've passed it. And he's a better man now. So, I can't, I'm happy that it kinda happened."

In August of 2021, the couple celebrated five years of marriage and based on their Instagram posts to each other, the two are stronger and more in love than ever.

More struggles in the spotlight

In 2013, CNN reported Kevin Hart got a DUI. Hart opened up about the incident, telling his Twitter fans in a since-deleted post, "When the cop asked me to take the sobriety test I said 'WHY WASTE OUR TIME ... I'M DRUNK MAN.'" Other tweets went on to elaborate that it was something he was taking seriously. "This is a wake up call for me," he wrote.

In 2018 he was set to host the 2019 Academy Awards until something from his past came to light. Per Billboard, some old tweets that included homophobic remarks resurfaced. Rather than apologize, Hart ultimately stepped down as host. That wouldn't be the end of his troubles: In 2019, a $60 million dollar lawsuit was brought against the actor by a woman named Montia Sabbag. The two were allegedly featured in a sex tape that Sabbag said was made without her consent. Ultimately, Kevin admitted to having an affair with Sabbag, but in 2020 a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, per The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. If all that wasn't enough, Hart was in a near-fatal car accident in 2019. 

He became besties with The Rock

The onscreen chemistry between Kevin Hart and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who first teamed up in 2016's "Central Intelligence," is undeniable. Their bond is perhaps even more endearing and lovable in real life, whether they're showing up at events together, sharing sentiments online, or popping up in each other's social media posts.

In 2019, Dwayne Johnson was present — and gave a speech — for Hart's ceremony at the TCL Chinese Theatre where he got his handprints enshrined in cement. Johnson spoke to Jimmy Kimmel about the day and his special connection with Hart. After throwing down a few jokes at Kevin's expense, Kimmel asked him a serious question to which The Rock replied, "He is definitely one of my best friends." The WWE legend went on to explain, "It's a real friendship. It was one that I didn't anticipate." For his part, Hart was equally sentimental about Johnson, musing, "I gotta be honest with you. Our relationship has skyrocketed, and it's unbelievable the amount of fun that he and I have."

We bet these two actor friends, who also were in both "Jumanji" films together, will continue to entertain the world both on and off screen.

Kevin Hart became the highest-paid comedian

Kevin Hart has a lot of irons in the fires: comedy tours, acting, production company, endorsement deals, clothing line, workout schedule, and who knows what else simmering on the back-burner. All this under the watchful eyes of his millions of fans and followers on social media and while trying to be the best husband and father he can. Hart has more than a dozen films under his belt but at some point, he wasn't satisfied with just the role of acting, which is why he started his production companies. And according to Variety, he wasn't afraid to back himself up, shelling out $10 million dollars to produce "What Now?" a documentary of Hart's tour of the same name.

As Forbes noted at the time, Hart became the highest-paid person in comedy in 2016, partly thanks to his endorsements with companies like Hyundai and Nike. In 2018, Hart told Forbes magazine, "I'm a huge NBA fan." So naturally Hart teamed up with Mountain Dew for a campaign to give away courtside seats. Apparently, all this wasn't enough for Hart and in 2018, he released a book, a memoir entitled, "I Can't Make This Up: Life Lessons."

How does Hart keep up the momentum? He gives a lot of credit to hitting the gym at 5 a.m. every morning, staying physically fit so he can always give 100 percent.

Kevin Hart has remained loyal to his friends

Kevin Hart surrounds himself with people he loves and who love him equally as much. His entourage is filled with friends and colleagues he met when he was just a teen and has come to trust enough to be in his inner circle. Hart's clique, which has been dubbed the Plastic Cup Boyz, includes Spank Jordan, Na'im Lynn, Joey Wells, Harry Ratchford, Wayne Brown, and John Clausell. They've all been there through the highs and the lows, and the group's dynamic is something you can't create overnight. Even his fitness trainer, Ron "Boss" Everline, whom Hart is with daily, feels the bond. He shared on Hart's "Don't F**k This Up" series, "Not only do we work together but we're a team. We created a brotherhood."

And Hart sure seems to love hanging out with the Plastic Cup Boyz. Before welcoming the comic and the Plastic Cup Boyz to the stage on a 2017 episode of her Netflix series, Chelsea Handler deadpanned, "Kevin Hart is also stupid because and he's worked with the same group of stupid people since their very early days, and now apparently, he won't come on a talk show without them." 

Despite knowing some of these men for two decades and how much they benefited from Hart's success, he takes care of his guys. In Hart's docuseries, he shared, "There's not a person underneath this umbrella of this company that is not well paid."

Fatherhood is everything to Kevin Hart

When it comes to raising a family, Kevin Hart picked up a lot from his own parents. As he told Howard Stern in 2016, "I'm such a great father, because I don't want to make the same mistakes that my dad made. ... The reason why I am the way I am is because my mom was strong." Hart also attributes his success to his children, whom he says he does everything for. And with four children as motivation, no wonder he's such a powerful force. 

That said, raising a family in the spotlight comes with a unique set of challenges. When his 2017 cheating scandal came to light and was splashed across headlines, for example, he knew he'd have to have a difficult sit-down with the children. But as he's learned, healthy communication is key. He said in Romper, "It's about listening, understanding and then doing your best to give information so that your kids can make the best choices for them. Not for you, but for them." 

Clearly, being a good dad is something Hart takes seriously. While chatting with Entertainment Weekly about the 2021 Netflix flick "Fatherhood," he opened up about, well, fatherhood. He told the outlet, "As a man that prides himself on being an amazing father, being there for my kids, I would love for there to be examples of other men that do that on-screen."