Kevin Hart: The True Superhero of Comedy and Charity 

Comedian, actor, media mogul - and self-described ‘male model’ - Kevin Hart knew comedy was his calling after watching Eddie Murphy’s Delirious stand-up video. The dream gave him hope when his cocaine-addicted father was in prison. It was the last thing he thought about before going to sleep in the hallway of his mother’s run-down, one-bedroom apartment in Philadelphia. It kept him sane when he was selling shoes.

“There was such a negative cloud over my home, that when I got to see what laughter did it made me want to embody that,” Kevin told Tony Robbins. “I wanted to bring that - not just to my household, but to people. I became the class clown. I became the funny guy day in, day out to my mother.” 

When he was 18, Kevin made a deal with his mom, a strict, no-nonsense woman who believed in bettering herself through education. She wanted Kevin to stay in school. He wanted a career in standup. They agreed he’d try comedy for one year and she’d help him financially. If Kevin couldn’t make a living after 12 months, he’d do things her way. 

His first performance at a drop-in improv night was a disaster: “I had jokes prepared. They just weren’t good jokes,” he recalled. “But what I didn’t have was fear... The silence didn’t deter me from wanting to be a comedian.”

Kevin Hart: The True Superhero of Comedy and Charity 

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Comedian, actor, media mogul - and self-described ‘male model’ - Kevin Hart knew comedy was his calling after watching Eddie Murphy’s Delirious stand-up video. The dream gave him hope when his cocaine-addicted father was in prison. It was the last thing he thought about before going to sleep in the hallway of his mother’s run-down, one-bedroom apartment in Philadelphia. It kept him sane when he was selling shoes.

“There was such a negative cloud over my home, that when I got to see what laughter did it made me want to embody that,” Kevin told Tony Robbins. “I wanted to bring that - not just to my household, but to people. I became the class clown. I became the funny guy day in, day out to my mother.” 

When he was 18, Kevin made a deal with his mom, a strict, no-nonsense woman who believed in bettering herself through education. She wanted Kevin to stay in school. He wanted a career in standup. They agreed he’d try comedy for one year and she’d help him financially. If Kevin couldn’t make a living after 12 months, he’d do things her way. 

His first performance at a drop-in improv night was a disaster: “I had jokes prepared. They just weren’t good jokes,” he recalled. “But what I didn’t have was fear... The silence didn’t deter me from wanting to be a comedian.”

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Kevin Hart: True Superhero
Kevin Hart learned about the power of laughter as a child raised by a single mother

Growing up in Philadelphia

Born in 1979, Kevin Hart never really knew his father. His parents divorced when he was six. His father was in and out of prison on drug-related charges and Kevin took it upon himself to make his mother’s life better. He was never a good student, but he figured he could at least make her laugh.

“Our biggest fights came with me not wanting to learn,” he said. “As I got older, I started to find my way, to become an individual who realized the power of the thing that was preached to me so much - which was knowledge and information. So the thing that I’ve taken from my mom is that feeling of never being content, never being okay with where you are because after every level is another level whether you realize it or not.”

After stumbling through his first comedy routines in New York City, Kevin realized that performing was more than telling jokes. It was about connecting with the audience so he began sharing his life’s ups and downs - like what it's like having a chicken wing thrown at him for telling a bad joke. "It hit me right here, with the sauce dripping from my face," the comedian said, poking his cheek before pointing to the floor.

After a year, Kevin was winning comedy competitions and his reputation was growing beyond New York. His breakthrough came when he was cast in a recurring role on the TV series Undeclared (2001). That was followed by film roles in Paper Soldiers (2002), Scary Movie 3 (2003), Soul Plane (2004) and In the Mix (2005).

Kevin Hart: True Superhero
Kevin Hart with his mother Nancy and brother Robert

Success and tragedy

Kevin’s mother still hadn’t seen any of his stand-up performances when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2006 and given 30 days to live. She was a religious woman who preferred reading the bible to being around alcohol, cigarettes, and New York City.

Kevin understood. She’d paid his rent during the first, precarious 12 months of his career. He knew he had her support but had no idea just how much until her death when he found a box of clippings and memorabilia from all of his shows in her apartment - every flier, ad, and newspaper review. Nancy Hart had followed his career intensely.

“While she wasn’t present, she was aware,” he recalled. “Now, as I achieved success, I don’t feel ‘Damn, I wish my mother was here to see it.’’ I - 100 percent - know she’s witnessing it at the highest level. And that there is constant applause and a pat on the back.”

Kevin’s mother had instilled in him her drive and ambition to build a better life and some of the lessons she taught him became more meaningful after her death:
“Information is free, that’s what she used to say.” Nancy was forever taking classes and striving to achieve more, so Kevin began studying the business he was in. Not content with just being a successful actor and comedian, he became a producer and an author. In February 2018, Hart's Laugh Out Loud Radio premiered on SiriusXM, with Kevin hosting Straight From The Hart with friends and comedians.


Superhero charity work

Financial success wasn’t enough. Like his mother, Kevin Hart wanted to instill a sense of drive and hope in others so he began recording comedic fitness videos and motivational speeches on YouTube, inspiring his fans to improve themselves. “Not only wake up but wake up with the mindset of being better than you were last week.”

With cancer charities and education both close to his heart, he has hosted events and performed for charities many times in addition to raising $350,000 by running the New York City Marathon. More marathon challenges are planned across the US, combining his passion for fitness and philanthropy.

Since 2014, Kevin has raised funds for cancer charities with his annual Hartbeat weekend concert and partnered with Laugh Out Loud and Sam’s Club Deliver to raise $500,000 in donations for families in need.

Kevin Hart: True Superhero
Kevin Hart believes it is now his turn to inspire his children


He joined forces with the United Negro College Fund and Knowledge Is Power Program to help 18 students earn a college degree through a new scholarship program. In one of his largest education initiatives to date, Kevin partnered with Meek Mill and Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin in 2022 to donate $15m to support 110 Philadelphia schools that serve underprivileged and disadvantaged students.

Kevin Hart said he’s only just getting started. He wants his children to know they too have the power to improve their lives and those of others.

"If my kids can walk away from it all and go, 'Yo, our dad did so much for so many people,' that's bigger than saying, 'Our dad was so famous and funny.'”

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