60 Minutes' Byron Pitts talks about overcoming illiteracy (VIDEO)

VIDEO - When Byron Pitts was 18 years old, his dream was to work for "60 Minutes" by the time he was 45. Raised by his mother in East Baltimore, Pitts was functionally illiterate until the age of 12...

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When Byron Pitts was 18 years old, his dream was to work for “60 Minutes” by the time he was 45.

Raised by his mother in East Baltimore, Pitts was functionally illiterate until the age of 12. He spoke with a stutter until his early 20s. But that didn’t stop him from dreaming big.

He chronicles his journey from troubled child to an Emmy award-winning journalist in his new book “Step Out On Nothing: How Faith and Family Helped Me Conquer Life’s Challenges.”

“People have been very receptive [to my story],” said Pitts, who was named a contributing correspondent for “60 Minutes” earlier this year. “There is joy on the other side of struggle, and I think that message is getting out there.”

Pitts came close to dropping out of Ohio Wesleyan University as a freshman. He was struggling academically and an English professor told him he wasn’t college material.

But another English professor, Ülle Lewes, befriended Pitts and “saved” his life.

“I didn’t know her, she didn’t know me,” Pitts said of Lewes, who helped Pitts with his school work all four years of college. “She helped me, she stepped out on nothing.”

Pitts said he hopes his story will inspire others to remain optimistic when their dreams seem out of reach.

“It ain’t easy sometimes being an optimist,” Pitts said. “But it’s a choice that people can make… I hope to encourage other people to make the same kind of choice.”

Follow theGrio’s Todd Johnson on Twitter at @rantoddj

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