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Unyielding Will: The Eric Thomas Story of Rising from Homelessness to Motivational Mastery

Updated: Apr 30

It May Be Tough

Life is not fair and no one knows this more than Eric Thomas. While he has achieved success today, he had to overcome a very rough start in life. He was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth like some contemporaries and he almost gave up before he got started.

Born to a teenage single mother in Chicago, Eric Thomas did not know his dad. His mother eventually relocated to Detroit but life was not easy in that city either. Struggling to make ends meet was too much for the young Mr. Thomas so he decided to quit school.

This decision also influenced him to leave living with his mother and led him to be homeless until he met a kind stranger.

Good People Provide The Proper Influence

It was at this time Eric Thomas met a man who would help change his life. One day while living on the street he met a preacher who convinced him to return to school and complete his education.

After making this decision, young Mr. Thomas started on the path to success. But even this was not easy. Schooling was not his forte but he hung in there. While completing his education, Mr. Thomas experienced two highlights in his life.

The first one was getting a job at Olive Garden and the second was meeting his soon-to-be wife. These were positive influences in his life and helped him endure and persevere when the going got tough.

His education path was not easy as it took him 12 years to complete his undergraduate education. Most people do it in 4 or 5 years but for Mr. Thomas, it was not a piece of cake. He was fortunate to have positive influences in his life that helped him strive to meet his education goal.

His Education Path

Eric Thomas enrolled in Oakwood University, in Huntsville, Alabama, and began his undergraduate studies. He was married by this time and due to the struggles that come with young married life, Eric Thomas took 3 times longer to complete his degree than the average student.

Yet, he did not give up at any point during this time. He was dedicated to bettering himself and he did not let struggles hinder him from obtaining his goals. He was finally successful in 2001.

In 2003, supported by a job at MSU and a fellowship, Mr. Thomas, was able to complete a Master's degree in K-12 Administration with an Education Leadership influence.

This educational goal was successfully completed in 2005 and Eric Thomas went to work with disadvantaged students. His work as an advisor to this student group led to being a part of developing an education retention program targeting high-risk black and Latino students.

To add to his success, he was a senior pastor at A Place of Change Ministries (APOC Ministries) in Lansing, Michigan. Mr. Thomas was now on a solid foundation and was taking great strides to achieve his life’s goals.

Yet, he did not stop with this success. Knowing that there was more to his life, he continued his educational path by enrolling in a Ph.D. program at MSU. However, this degree took almost 10 years for Mr. Thomas to complete.

Eric Thomas always had his eye on the prize which enabled him to endure any hardship that came his way. As he worked and preached, as well as studied, he became a well-known speaker. His time was in high demand as he exemplified the spirit of never giving up.

The Next Step

It was during the time he was studying for his Doctorate degree that Eric Thomas also started a YouTube Channel. In 2008, he created his YouTube channel where he placed motivational lectures. There are over 1100 videos on his channel and it is still growing.

Also, in 2011, he was interviewed by FOX journalists who talked about his life. He serves as a shining example of what can be done if you do not let your rough start get in the way.

His Family Life

Throughout all of this, Eric Thomas has been married for over 20 years to the women he met while working at the Olive Garden. They have built a solid marriage even though Eric Thomas’ objectives often seemed overwhelming.

In addition to a strong marriage, the couple are raising a daughter and a son. Their marriage seems to have been made in heaven.

His Achievements

Besides his family, Eric Thomas has been able to reach many reachable goals. He has written and published 7 books detailing his life, success as well as motivational content.

Along with that, he has an established YouTube channel as well as millions of followers on Instagram, Twitter (X), and Facebook. Plus, he conducts regular seminars, conferences, consulting work, and much more.

He has not let success go to his head nor does he rest on his laurels. Eric Thomas is still working like he did when he first went to college. He still has his life dreams and he is pursuing them at top speed.

Some Of His More Popular Quotes

#1. Push the snooze button and you will end up working for someone who didn’t

#2. Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go

#3. Success is not for the weak and the uncommitted, sometimes it is going to hurt

#4. When you are great you attract great. When you are average, you attract average

#5. The only way to get out of mediocrity is to shoot for excellence (source)

Life may start tough but it does not have to remain tough. Eric Thomas proved that true as he overcame being fatherless, homeless, poor, education issues and other roadblocks to reach success.

He did not let a rough start in life ruin his life forever. He found a way to succeed including listening to sound advice when he needed to. Then he never gave up when life got tough again.

Image Credits: Karl Philiips, CC BY 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

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