The Pursuit Of Happyness: The Definitive Underdog Story

The Pursuit Of Happyness: The Definitive Underdog Story

Everybody knows of the underdog story, the person who fights against all odds and doubts to climb to the top and succeed. This story comes in many different forms, from the Rocky series to the 2010-11 Dallas Mavericks, but always leaves us with a sense of wonder, and the feeling that we can do anything we set our minds to, no matter how far the goal may seem to currently be. With underdog stories being as well-loved as they are, I feel as though one of the greatest stories should not be overlooked– a story with all of the classic elements of an underdog story, The Pursuit Of Happyness by Chris Gardner. 


Published on May 23rd, 2006, The Pursuit Of Happyness is the life story of Christopher Paul Gardner, a kid who went from struggle to success. The book received many positive reviews from the likes of critics such as the New York Times and even gained recognition from former president Donald Trump, who described it as “An inspiring story of how an incredibly determined man made it to the big-time boardroom, and stayed there.”. The book became so popular that a movie based on it was released on December 15th, 2006, featuring Will Smith and his son Chris and his son (the movie did change the story a bit, however). 


Christopher Gardner giving a motivational speech.

The book starts us at the beginning, where a fatherless Chris was born in Milwaukee. Living below the poverty line, we are told of his experiences with an abusive stepfather, a mother who gets arrested, and a general lack of a positive male role model, which leads him to his values of being the best father he can be. He then takes us to his 4 years in the army, and then the years in California. Making less money than he needs, he runs into a well-dressed man in a Ferrari, and after a conversation with the man, discovers what he wants to become in life, a stock broker. He battles through the struggles of homelessness and being broke in California while he fights for a job at a firm. When he does get it, he still has to manage being homeless until he saves up enough money to rent. After the struggles, he is given a perfect life and never looks back on making the best life he can for his son. 


The story of Chris Gardner is the epitome of the American dream, a man given nothing and making something out of it. The underdog spirit is seen in him as clearly as in any great underdog story. Personally, this book is one of my favorites, and the story never fails to elicit emotion in me. Mr. Gardner ends the book with the words “I continued to be blessed beyond the dreams of a thousand men. Absolutely.”, and leaves us with a new idea of what is impossible.