CNN  — 

Here is a look at the life of former US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and a former presidential candidate.


Birth date: September 18, 1951

Birth place: Detroit, Michigan

Birth name: Benjamin Solomon Carson

Father: Robert Carson, auto factory worker

Mother: Sonya (Copeland) Carson, domestic worker

Marriage: Lacena “Candy” (Rustin) Carson (July 1975-present)

Children: Murray, Benjamin Jr and Rhoeyce

Education: Yale University, B.A. in Psychology, 1973; University of Michigan School of Medicine, M.D., 1977

Religion: Seventh Day Adventist

Other Facts

When Carson became the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins at age 33, he was the youngest to head a major division in the hospital’s history.

His parents separated when he was 8, after it was revealed his father was a bigamist. He and his brother were raised by their mother.

Carson admits that he had a violent temper in his youth, and says one of the defining moments of his life occurred when he was 14. Carson attempted to stab a schoolmate, but luckily the boy’s belt buckle blocked the knife. After praying for three hours, Carson “came to an understanding that to lash out at people is not a sign of strength, it was a sign of weakness.”

Known for offering provocative commentary on a wide range of issues, including comparing the modern American government to Nazi Germany in a March 2014 interview with Breitbart, and at the 2013 Values Voters Summit, saying that Obamacare is “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.”


1977-1978 - Intern in general surgery at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

1978-1982 - Completes his neurosurgery residency at Johns Hopkins.

1982-1983 - Chief neurosurgery resident at Johns Hopkins.

1983-1984 - Senior registrar in neurosurgery at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth, Australia.

1984-2013 - Director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

1987 - Primary neurosurgeon on team that performs the first successful surgery to separate conjoined twins connected at the back of the head (occipital craniopagus twins).

1990 - Carson’s best-selling autobiography, “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story,” is published.

1994 - Founds the Carson Scholars Fund with his wife, which facilitates leisure reading for children and funds college scholarships for students with strong academics and humanitarian achievement.

1997 - Primary neurosurgeon on the team that performs the first fully successful surgery to separate Type 2 vertical craniopagus twins (joined at the top of the head and facing opposite directions), where both twins survive and are neurologically normal.

2002 - Co-founds the Benevolent Endowment Network (BEN) Fund, which provides financial support for the medical expenses of pediatric neurosurgery patients.

August 2002 - Undergoes surgery for prostate cancer. He is later declared cancer-free.

2004 - Named by President George W. Bush to the President’s Council on Bioethics.

June 19, 2008 - Receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bush.

February 7, 2009 - Cuba Gooding Jr. plays Carson in the made-for-television movie, “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story.”

February 7, 2013 - Gains national attention after he criticizes Democratic policies on taxes and healthcare during his keynote address at the National Prayer Breakfast.

July 1, 2013 - Retires from Johns Hopkins as director of pediatric neurosurgery, professor and co-director of the Craniofacial Center.

October 2013-November 2014 - Contributor for Fox News.

November 2014 - Officially switches his party affiliation from registered Independent to Republican, a move he later acknowledges was spurred on by a possible presidential run.

March 4, 2015 - On CNN’s “New Day,” Carson asserts that homosexuality is a choice because people “go into prison straight – and when they come out, they’re gay.” He later apologizes for his comments, but says that the science is still murky on the issue.

May 4, 2015 - Formally announces his candidacy for US president in his hometown of Detroit.

March 2, 2016 - After a disappointing finish on Super Tuesday, Carson announces he doesn’t “see a political path forward” in the Republican presidential nomination process, and will not attend the upcoming GOP presidential debate in Detroit.

March 4, 2016 - In a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference gathering in National Harbor, Maryland, Carson officially ends his presidential campaign and reveals his next move: becoming the national chairman of My Faith Votes, a group focused on getting out the Christian vote in November.

March 11, 2016 - Carson announces his endorsement of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.

November 15, 2016 - A close Carson adviser tells CNN that Carson has declined an offer from President-elect Trump to join his cabinet as secretary of Health and Human Services.

December 5, 2016 - The Trump transition team announces Carson will be nominated as the next secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

March 2, 2017 - Carson is confirmed as HUD secretary with a 58-41 vote in the Senate.

February 2018 - CNN obtains a November 2017 complaint from HUD’s former chief administration officer, who said she was told to “find money” beyond the legal $5,000 limit for redecorating Carson’s office. Soon after, it is revealed that HUD spent $31,000 to replace a dining room set for the office. Carson says in a statement to CNN that he was “surprised” about the order and had it canceled.

May 16, 2019 - In a letter to Congress, the Government Accountability Office’s general counsel says HUD broke the law when it spent about $40,000 in 2017 for a new dining set and dishwasher for Carson’s office.

September 12, 2019 - HUD’s internal watchdog clears Carson of wrongdoing for his plan to purchase a $31,000 dining set without notifying Congress.

November 9, 2020 - HUD Deputy Chief of Staff Coalter Baker releases a statement that Carson has tested positive for the coronavirus. “He is in good spirits and feels fortunate to have access to effective therapeutics which aid and markedly speed his recovery.”