Denzel Washington’s mother saved him when he went down the wrong path – now he helps others

Denzel Washington is perhaps one of the most popular actors of his generation. He pioneered the way for African-American actors to make a name for themselves in Hollywood.

But his success is owed to one other person than himself; his mother.


Denzel Washington does not come from a life of privilege. His mother was a hardworking salon owner while his father was a pastor and had two churches to look after.

When the actor was only 14 years old, his parents divorced. His mother Lennis was left to take care of her three children on her own. And as Denzel has grown older he has realized he would give his mother the most trouble.

His parent’s divorce affected him and he started getting in trouble. He began mixing with the wrong crowd. Today he counts how one of his friends is dead, one spent 28 years in prison, one spent 20 and another spend 12 years.


His mother however was determined to save her little boy from going down the wrong path. She moved him from Oaklahoma to a private school in upstate New York.


While Denzel did his best to get his act together, he would still get in trouble every now and then. The school would send him back home but his mother would make sure her son went right back until he was disciplined enough to not get in trouble.

The actor thrived in sports and became part of a band. He discovered his love and talent for the performing arts. And he knew very well that he would not have discovered his love for acting had it not been for his mother.


The actor describes the days of his youth as “throwing rocks at the penitentiary,” but fortunately he never hit. He often recalls his mother’s words, “Son, you never know who is praying for you.” He fully believes this as he cannot fathom how he was able to keep himself out of jail.

Whenever the actor is posed with the question of what he would say to his younger self, he says he would tell himself to “listen to your mother!” Because without her, he is not sure whether he would have the comfortable life he has today!

In 2021, Washington lost his mother. She was 97 years old and had truly lived a long life. After her passing, Washington was a guest on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” where the host expressed his condolences to the actor.


The actor said he was grateful he and his siblings got to spend so much time with their mother while she was alive. Colbert then proceeded to remind Washington of something he had said earlier, “A mother is a son’s, first love.”

Washington further expanded on that quote and said, “a son, especially that first son, is a mother’s, last true love.”

Washington said this because he himself had seen how his wife Pauletta was incredibly soft when it came to their eldest son John David Washington. “He can do no wrong,” Washington said.


Washington grew emotional as he talked about his mother and expressed surprise at the sudden emotions he was experiencing. He shared that he had not even cried at his mother’s funeral. He reminded the audience to hug their loved ones while they were alive.

Washington credits his mother for teaching him the importance of family. He has been married to his wife Pauletta since 1983. The couple shares four children together, John, Katia, Malcolm, and Olivia.

Washington is not shy to express his love and admiration for his wife. He says she is a strong Christian who has instilled in their children the need for prayers and the bible.


As for what keeps their marriage strong, according to Washington, it is  “lots of prayers.” He has often praised his wife Pauletta for being the rock of the family and the reason why all of them share such a solid bond.

The actor has said on occasion how much he enjoys rushing home from work to make sure he can watch his son’s games and spend time with his family. The actor has said, “Family is life. Acting is not life to me. It’s making a living.”

“Money doesn’t buy happiness but it’s a heck of a down payment. You soon realize you can only drive one car at a time. I have an Aston Martin but I prefer my truck. When you get older and wiser, you simplify. You don’t need as much. You have raised your children, and now you live through them. Their success is what’s important to me. I just won a Tony award for a Broadway show. Another Oscar would be nice. But I’d rather leave this earth as a successful parent than a successful actor,” the actor has said.

Washington has always maintained his humility even with his stardom. The actor credits his mother for making sure his head never gets too big. She would always remind him that he does not know whose prayers got him to where he is in life. She would help to keep him grounded by making him do chores like washing her windows.


He praises his mother for raising him to be empathetic and kind. This all circles back to an encounter he had with a homeless man in West Hollywood. The actor was driving when he noticed a homeless man in the middle of a busy street. The actor immediately turned his car around in order to get close to the man.

The quick maneuver was dangerous but he wanted to help the homeless man so he threw caution for his own safety out of the window. The actor managed to get the man to safety and then called the police and waited with him.

While they waiting Washington gave the man a sandwich and a mask to protect him from the Covid-19 virus. When the police arrived, he helped the man give the cops a statement.

Denzel Washington’s mother would have been proud of her son. He respects everyone from any walk of life and tries to help anyone he comes across. What an honorable man.

Share this article with other Denzel Washington fans so they can get to know about him beyond the screen.