I could gauge the depth and breadth of Steve Harvey’s popularity and cultural cache as I strolled through the Mandalay Bay Casino and Resort on Las Vegas’ famous Strip during Harvey’s annual Hoodie Awards weekend. I was taken aback by the sheer number of African American partiers in white linen, who flooded the casino from the front all the way to the hotel’s convention center in the rear. When I entered the concert hall during “White Night,” some 6,000 or so blacks had packed the convention hall with Charlie Wilson serenading a sea of white-clad music fans. It was astounding to witness the spectacle.

Harvey is on a seeming magic carpet ride of success these days: he has penned two #1 New York Times bestselling books; he inspired a $100 million, No. 1 movie made from one of  those bestsellers; is the host of the No. 1 national urban radio show with over 7 million listeners daily; is performing as the host of the iconic “Family Feud;” has a movie remake in the works; is the founder of a transformational foundation that Denzel Washington gave $1 million to, not to mention his marriage to beauty Majorie. The proud born-again Christian would be the first to tell you that he is definitely living with favor.

But it hasn’t always been this way for the man who grew up in the unforgiving neighborhoods of Cleveland. Let’s take a quick peek back at the life and times of Steve Harvey.

— terry shropshire