October 4, 2011
By, Michael Mroziak
BUFFALO, NY (WBFO) – Byron Pitts is best known to most Americans as one of the contributing journalists for the CBS television show “60 Minutes.” He’s won awards and earns a decent salary and traveled the world. But when he addressed the students at Riverside High School, he told a personal tale that left many students admittedly surprised.
Pitts, a native of East Baltimore, was raised by a single mother, didn’t learn to read until the age of 12 and stuttered until he was 20. He nearly failed right out of college. As a middle school student, doctors deemed him “mentally retarded” and recommended he be institutionalized.
His mother refused. She, along with a college professor and college classmate, pushed Pitts to work harder and he overcame his obstacles to graduate and begin his career as a journalist.
“I say to young people all the time that they should have a dream, and that dream for your life should be so outrageous that people laugh when they hear,” said Pitts, who added that some of his own college classmates didn’t like his chances, given his poor academic record.
Pitts told the student audience he is an optimist by choice and encourages youths, no matter what their circumstances, to also embrace a more positive outlook.