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Byron Pitts, CBS Evening News Correspondent, Talks About Overcoming Illiteracy and Stutter in New Book

By all accounts, Byron Pitts has had an incredibly successful career. He's the Chief National Correspondent for the CBS Evening News (no small feat) and also contributes to 60 Minutes (ditto). But what you may not know about him is how much he struggled to get there.

When Pitts was 12, he was diagnosed as functionally illiterate. Until he was 20, he had a chronic stutter that prevented him communicating easily. Not exactly the history you'd expect of a renowned journalist, huh? How Pitts rose to his current position is the subject his new book, Step Out on Nothing, which he promoted several weeks ago on the CBS Early Show.

Byron Pitts overcame stuttering and illiteracy (Getty)
Speaking with host Harry Smith, Pitts explained, "I was a picture reader early on. My mother tells me that basically I would read pictures. I was blessed with a good memory, I could memorize things. She would work hard with me. I would memorize sections of books."

Later, he was declared functionally illiterate, but his mom stood by his side. "But all of us, if we look hard enough, will find people who sustain us, who encourage us, who tell us that we can when we think we can't," he said. "And certainly my mother has always been that person for me. She's that person today, that on those good days she's encouraging me, on those bad days she encourages me."

Given how successful he's been despite his setbacks, Pitts emphasized that hard work and faith got him to where he is today. "There's nothing special about me," he insisted. "I'm not blessed with tremendous athletic ability. I'm not the brightest guy in the world. Certainly I work hard as we all do in our business and so many people work hard."

So what about the title, Step Out on Nothing? For Pitts, it's a question of faith. "Step out on your faith," he explained. "Non-believers may say you're stepping out on nothing. But for those who believe in a force greater than themselves, it's this notion you step out on your faith and it will sustain you difficult moments."
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