Sherman Brown is a motivational speaker, entrepreneur, and author of The Bullet In Me, an awe-inspiring autobiography that chronicles the Memphis native’s struggle to overcome poverty and a near-fatal gun accident during his youth.
Despite the litany of traumas that plagued his childhood, Brown always held a deep love for his hometown, predominantly because Memphis was the only city he had ever been exposed to.
“Memphis was a place of peace and happiness,” Brown is quick to point out.
“But it was the best because it was all I knew.”
Brown says this even though he endured constant adversity on the streets of the Bluff City, bearing witness to rampant drug usage and gun violence, the former of which brutally afflicted his parents, and the latter wreaking havoc on Brown personally.
As documented in The Bullet In Me, one day Brown’s friend brought a gun over to his house and began casually brandishing the weapon, the entire time claiming that the weapon was not loaded.
“Pow! Pow! Pow! He continued in that silly voice, pretending to shoot several objects before turning toward me again and yelling, Sherman, take cover, lil’ n*****, take cover!” He said those words jokingly as he ran toward me.
Look, man, I already told you to stop with the games…
But instead of listening, he continued to point the gun.
Tragically, unbeknownst to Brown’s friend, there were bullets inside the chamber, and moments later the gun went off and a shot was fired directly into Brown’s mouth.
Through good fortune and prompt medical attention, Brown was eventually stabilized at a nearby hospital, where he would spend the next few months recouping physically, but it was the emotional recovery that was a key factor in Brown becoming the man he is today.
“I always had hope, but it was at that point that I started questioning God,” Brown recalls of that lengthy hospital stay.
“I remember thinking that it wasn’t my fault that my mom and dad were addicted to drugs. It wasn’t my fault that I was in poverty, but at that point I also decided I wanted to overcome those challenges and become the best that I could be.”
For Brown, he quickly realized that if he could survive being shot in the mouth and live with the fact that the bullet will literally always be a part of him (doctors say shards of the bullet will forever remain in his head), then he could overcome any other challenges that life presented.
“When I got out of the hospital, I tried to push as hard as I could to get to the next level,” Brown says, and so began a string of entrepreneurial pursuits that over the years included opening a restaurant and starting a roofing company.
While Brown spent those years grinding and establishing himself in the Memphis business world, he also didn’t lose sight of the past, nor the people who were personally affected by his tragedy.
Perhaps surprisingly, Brown says that he learned the power of forgiveness, a concept that not only aided in his business career, but also allowed him to sympathize with his friend who accidentally shot him in the mouth.
“It’s so easy to not look at things from both sides because we are all selfish and we all want things to go our way, but once I was able to take a step back and consider both perspectives, I realized that if I made that type of mistake I would not want to be penalized for the rest of my life,” Brown explains.
He then emphasizes the need for others to show forgiveness in a society that in recent years has seemed to revel in the trappings of controversy and divisiveness.
“Forgiveness is not a relief for the other person. It’s a relief for yourself.”
“When you don’t forgive someone, you are only penalizing your own mind. As individuals, we do so many things that we want God to forgive us for, but at the same time we don’t want to pass that forgiveness on to other people.”
Brown then adds that granting forgiveness also can lead to people growing as individuals and discovering parts of themselves that they didn’t know previously existed.
In Brown’s case, once he made peace with the harrowing event that forever altered the trajectory of his life, he began to flourish in business, but his evolution didn’t stop there.
Having escaped the financial doldrums of his childhood, Brown then began to understand that life was about more than accruing wealth, and that he could leverage his former demons in a way that would inspire other disenfranchised youth to reach their potential.
This ultimately led to the publication of The Bullet In Me, a 181-page memoir that has already given countless teens a new outlook on their futures.
“I’m no better than anyone else. I’m just a high school dropout who was shot in the mouth, but that’s part of who I am. It’s part of my story and there are people who can relate to the fact that I dropped out of high school, or that my parents were addicted to drugs,” Brown begins.
“And if I can make it out of dire circumstances, then writing a book can give hope to someone else who has been through those kinds of struggles.”
In the latter half of The Bullet In Me, Brown then delves into the specifics of his business ventures, taking readers through his tumultuous journey as an entrepreneur that doesn’t aim to glorify self-employment.
Instead, Brown shares his experiences in order to give people an insight into the harsh realities of business, but the former high school dropout also does his best to keep things in perspective.
“Growing up, the rats usually got to eat food before I did. I mean, for a long time my bed was my coffee table, which is to say, no matter what kind of struggles I encounter in business, none of them are worse than eating a rat’s leftovers,” Brown says.
Today, Brown continues to tirelessly devote himself to business, whether that is pursuing speaking events for The Bullet In Me, or the daily grind as owner of Q3 Contractors, a roofing company located in Memphis.
It all may seem like a lot, but for Brown, it’s part of the commitment to self-improvement he made to himself years ago while lying in a hospital bed.
“It doesn’t matter if I am teaching someone how to run a roofing business or serving as a beacon of hope for someone who has lost their way, I want to make a positive impact, and that’s what I strive to accomplish every day,” Brown says.
Considering all that Brown has achieved professionally, one could imagine that his life is now much easier to navigate than it was previously, but for the man who just recently earned his doctorate degree, the search for happiness is far from complete.
That’s because despite Brown’s professional success, until recently, he hasn’t been able to achieve the synergy within his family that he craved.
“I always wanted to create a happy atmosphere in my home, but for a long time that wasn’t happening,” he says.
According to Brown, for years his ex-wife had influenced their son not to like Brown’s new wife, to the point that Brown quit trying to alleviate the disconnect that existed.
“Finally understanding and accepting that I couldn’t control how other people felt or chose to behave lifted a weight off my shoulder, and then I was mentally free,” Brown notes, then mentioning that he was ready to move forward without the ideal familial harmony in place, but then he received a call from his son.
“Dad, I’m going to try to love your wife. Hopefully she loves me, and we can focus on being a happy family,” his son expressed during their conversation, much to Brown’s delight.
“That was my Christmas present,” Brown shares with a smile.
This is just one more example of why Brown urges others going through hardship to never stop persevering through life’s difficulties, because sooner or later, clarity will indeed arrive.
“The only way you will figure things out is by getting to the next level. That’s where you will find peace and your definition of prosperity, but you have to get into the midst of it. That’s the only way you will figure it out.” QS
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