On The Shoulders Of A Giant: My Hero, My Grandfather


“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” 

Isaac Newton wrote that in a letter to Robert Hooke in 1675.

I’ve always liked that quote because it’s humbling. It’s a reminder that even the people who we perceive to be great — their achievements should be attributed to the real greats who came before them. There was somebody who walked so they could run. 

I have only ever known one giant and I have stood on his shoulders my entire life. I have shared that giant with the world to the best of my ability. There isn’t a single person who can legitimately say they are a fan of mine who cannot also tell you something about my grandfather.

During one of my most viral internet moments — testifying in front of congress — my grandfather was sitting right behind me, shaking his head at Ted Lieu.

My first published book, Blackout, has sold 498,695 copies. That’s just under half a million people who own a book that tells the story of my grandfather. It’s a book dedicated to him.

I have toured the country, non-stop over these last 4 years. I’ve delivered hundreds of speeches in front of thousands upon thousands of people. I can say honestly that I have never left any of those stages without telling the story of my granddad. 

The story of a boy who was born in North Carolina in 1941, on a sharecropping farm in the segregated south. One of twelve children. 

I didn’t feel ready to do this episode. We just kept pushing it back. I opted to instead drown myself in so much other work — rather than dealing with the sadness of my grandfather’s passing — because I didn’t feel ready. 

Then recently I began seeing the “a-ha” in that.  I thought “a-ha, that’s it. I don’t feel ready.”

Like I didn’t feel ready to ride a bike without support when I was 4 years old. My grandad went to the shed, grabbed his tools and took the training wheels off anyway. He ran behind me to give me a push start and told me “just keep pedaling.” And I did. He knew I was ready. 

And 26 years later, I didn’t feel ready when I testified for the first time in front of Congress. In fact, I had taken a red eye from California the night before and was on just 2 hours of sleep. Granddad took a flight up from North Carolina to DC to meet me there. He invited himself. Insisted on being there. Sat right behind me. His presence was the push I needed. He knew I was ready. 

When I think of granddad, I think of two steady hands, always behind me, my whole entire life. 

Two steady, greasy, working hands that never let me down.

I even saw the “aha” in me throwing myself into work to avoid dealing with things — it was very “granddad” of me. He worked from the time he was 5 years old, until the day he died because he couldn’t understand the concept of retirement. He genuinely could not grasp it. For him, self-worth was tied to what you could contribute to your household and in turn to your society. I hold the same view. So much of me is him.

Another thing is my granddad had the greatest sense of humor. He was really quick with a joke, even in the most somber of situations. 

And it was his final little joke, his final wink to our family, that he passed away on Labor Day. 

And the last words I heard him utter were “I’m ready.”

Needless to say, I’m going to miss him. He was my hero. He was my giant. In this world — which is so corrupted by the whims of men — I don’t know that we have many more giants walking among us. 

There is so much more I could say — in fact, I could say everything — and it would still be an understatement. 

And I still don’t feel ready, but I know if he were here he’d say, “just keep pedaling.” 

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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