Chuck Norris, 80, credits his mother, Wilma Norris Knight, 99, for his belief in God and his successes.
Sometimes, we need others to believe in us to see our value. This is especially true when it comes to our parents. Involved parents make sure that their kids have a value system similar to theirs. For most of us, our faith is a part of our education from our parents. We also learn that hard work can help us reach great heights.
Veteran actor and martial artist Chuck Norris, 80, credits his mother, Wilma Norris Knight, 99, for his belief system. Knight, mother-of-three sons, had to raise them singlehandedly mostly as her ex-husband abandoned the family after their divorce. Norris' alcoholic father moved their family 16 times before the Walker, Texas Ranger actor turned 15, according to Baptist Press. However, there are conflicting reports about his childhood. As per Biography, Norris' father left his family to fend for itself when the actor was 10 years old.
Norris moved with his mother and two younger brothers, Wieland and Aaron, to California after his father left. Knight was a devout Christian and made sure that her children went to church wherever they lived. The Delta Force actor developed a relationship with God thanks to her insistence.
Norris was only 14 when he took up more responsibility at home, including taking care of his brothers while his mom worked. Knight would tell her oldest son that "God has a plan for you" daily. She believed in him and her faith in him probably helped him take big chances in life. "She loves Jesus with all of her heart and soul and made sure we understood that [growing up]," he was reported as saying by Baptist Press. "She influenced me spiritually and instilled in me a sense of responsibility that carried over in my later adult life. She always told me ‘God has plans for you,’ and I didn’t know what she meant. I think I do now," he said.
She would make her sons "believe that we can achieve things in life" but she was also a realist who told them that there will be obstacles. "But if you’re determined enough, you can overcome any obstacle in life if you have the belief in yourself," she told them, as reported by News 9.
The Way of the Dragon actor joined the U.S. Air Force in 1958 and was stationed at the Osan Air Base in South Korea. This is how his love for martial arts began and eventually, he left the armed forces to become a karate instructor. From there, he kept on reaching new heights. In the 1960s, he was able to open more than 30 karate studios and became a celebrity instructor, reports Biography.
One of the people he taught was actor Steve McQueen, who spurred him to try acting. The martial arts champion did take McQueen seriously and landed a small role in Wrecking Crew. Martial arts legend Bruce Lee also invited Norris to film a "fight scene that everyone will remember" for The Way of the Dragon, according to AmoMama. He attained greater fame and became one of the few action stars who focused on martial arts.
Unfortunately, his personal life took a hit eventually. Norris had married his high school sweetheart in 1958 and they divorced 30 years later. They had adult sons, who moved away, and the physical distance affected the emotional bond too. Then, two big things happened in his life a decade after his divorce. Firstly, he married girlfriend Gena O'Kelley, who is now the mother of his twins. Secondly, he received a letter from a daughter he didn't know he had.
His daughter, Dina, was born to someone he had a brief fling with in 1958. She is his oldest child and is now a part of his life. Speaking about his affair, he said, "These are human frailties; we all have them, we all sin. But as far I’m concerned, the sin that resulted in my daughter turned out to be a blessing. I can’t imagine my life without her and her children, my three grandchildren."
Six years later, when O'Kelley went into premature labor, he almost lost hope until he could turn to God again. "I had earned millions of dollars over my lifetime," he wrote in his autobiography Against All Odds: My Story with Ken Abraham, as cited by Baptist Press. "I’d been a friend to several presidents, yet all the money in my bank account couldn’t help me now…. There was only one person to whom I could turn," he wrote. And, that person was God.
O'Kelley pulled through but she got sick again a few years later, which is when he quit his acting career to take care of her. She is doing well now and they continue their philanthropic activities together.