The issues facing President Barack Obama these days are serious, complex, and unique to his status as one of the world’s most powerful political leaders. But many years ago, back when the president was just a teenager, he dealt with issues that many teenagers, past and present, had in common.
A recent article on the Washington Post‘s web site, drawing from a new biography about Obama titled “Barack Obama: The Story”, discussed some interesting facts about Obama’s adolescence. Here are five of the most interesting ones.
Obama was not a straight-A student
In fact, while Obama attended Punahou School in Hawaii, he never ran for student government. He was also never chosen for National Honor Society, and borrowed notes from other students. According to classmate Joe Hanson, “He would not prepare… but knew what he wanted to talk about and was very good at putting it on paper.”
He didn’t hang out with popular kids
In ninth grade, Obama preferred to hang out with two other friends of color, in an area they dubbed “Ethnic Corner”, across the way from “Senior Bench” where jocks and cheerleaders sat. Apparently, there was discussion at the time as to whether there would be a black president in their lifetimes, but according to one of the students Obama hung out with, “None of us talked about whether we might be that person.”
He survived a rollover crash
While riding in his friend’s Toyota as they drag-raced against a Volkswagen van, Obama’s friend flipped the car onto its hood. Obama and the driver had to crawl out through the back window, and the driver was left with a bloody nose. When the other vehicle went back to check on them, Obama was laughing and insulting his friend’s driving skills with some salty language.
He dreamed of being a basketball star
In fact, Obama was a member of the Punahou School varsity squad during his senior year, when the team won the state championship. His idols? Tiny Archibald, George Gervin, Julius Erving, and Earl Monroe.
He had a rough time growing up
His father was a distant figure in his life, and his mother spent some of his formative years doing graduate work in Indonesia. In fact, he was quite close with his grandparents, Stanley and Madelyn Dunham. Still, he wrote in an alumni magazine 20 years after his graduation, “As a kid from a broken home and family of modest means, I nursed more resentments than my circumstances justified, and didn’t always channel those resentments in particularly constructive ways.”
For the rest of the list of interesting facts about Obama’s teenage years, check out this Washington Post article.
— Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPlace Money & Politics Editor
The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.
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