Denzel Washington is one of those actors who needs no introduction. His awards and blockbuster films speak for themselves.
But his recognition and success did not come easily. Washington was raised by a very strict and hardworking mother who ran a beauty salon. His father was also a hard worker. He was a pastor and had two churches.
Unfortunately, the actor’s parents drifted apart and divorced when he was 14 years old. Denzel and his siblings were left in the care of their mother, Lennis. Washington admitted, however, that of the three children, he was the one who gave his mother the hardest time.
After his parents’ divorce, Denzel rebelled and started hanging out with the wrong crowd. He confessed that one of his friends ended up dead, another served 28 years in prison, another 20 and one spent 12 years in prison.
When Lennis realized the frightening path her son was on, she pulled him out of Oklahoma and sent him to a private school in upstate New York.
This is where Washington turned his life around, but things weren’t always easy. The actor revealed that he continued to get into a lot of trouble and ended up being sent back home. However, his mother sent him back to school on several occasions, until he started behaving well.
He loved sports and was part of a band. It was then that Denzel discovered his love for the arts and acting. The celebrity doesn’t believe he would have achieved these accomplishments without the support of his beloved mom.
The “Man on Fire” star has never forgotten Lennis’ words:
“Son, you never know who’s praying for you.”
For him, it’s a miracle he didn’t end up behind bars like his friends.
When asked what advice he would give his fifteen-year-old son, the actor usually laughs incredulously and replies:
“listen to your mom!”.
Denzel believes that without his mom’s help, he would not be able to enjoy a life full of comforts today.
A special bond between mother and son
Denzel lost his mom in 2021, at the age of 97. When the celebrity visited “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” the host consoled him for his loss.
Washington said that both he and his siblings were grateful to have spent so much time together with Lennis. In discussing a mother’s love, Colbert reminded Denzel of one of his quotes:
“A mother is a son’s first love.”
The artist added a sentence saying:
“a child, especially that first child, is from a mother, the last true love.”
This was after Colbert asked the actor how he continues to honor Lennis and the love she gave them.
However, Washington couldn’t finish talking about a mother’s love without breaking down. He even said he was surprised by his flood of tears because he didn’t cry at Lennis’ funeral. The celebrity reminded the audience that it was important to embrace their loved ones while they were still alive.
Denzel credits his mother for teaching him the importance of family. He has been married to his wife Pauletta since 1983 and they have four children: John, Katia, Malcolm and Olivia. The actor is very proud of his wife. He says she is a Christian who has instilled prayer and the teachings of the Bible in all their children.
When asked what keeps a marriage strong, he said, “lots of prayers.” Pauletta is the rock of the Washington family and their reason for being.
Denzel says there is nothing better than rushing home after work to watch his son’s games and spend time with his family.
“Family is life. Acting is not life to me. It’s making a living,” the actor said.
Washington’s humility is another part of his personality that he attributes to his mother. He recalled his early career, when he was just rising to fame.
“The Equalizer” star said he went home to show off his popularity, and his mother put him in his place and reminded him again that he didn’t know whose prayers had gotten him where he was. Then, she told him to wash the windows.
Even when he was older and successful, Lennis kept telling Washington to dig deep into himself to lead a good life. It was then that the actor decided to stop drinking.
Denzel Washington saved a man’s life
Washington praised his mother for raising him to be a caring man and shows by his actions that he has a big heart. While driving through West Hollywood on one occasion, the actor noticed a homeless man in the middle of a busy street.
Denzel didn’t think twice; he parked on the shoulder and risked his life to save the stranger. As difficult as it was to maneuver through the crowded street, he managed to pull the man safely off the roadway.
But he didn’t stop there; Washington called the police and waited with the man until they arrived. The actor stayed with him and helped him make a statement to the officers.
Denzel stood by his side, comforting him throughout the interrogation. He even gave the subject a snack and a mask to protect him from the coronavirus.