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We all know Trevor Noah and his ability to make the world laugh. But in a recent interview with PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly Editorial Director for the latest episode of The Jess Cagle Interview, he opened up about one of the scariest days of his life. Trevor reveals that his childhood was marked by violence when his abusive stepfather shot his mother in the head.


Noah, host of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, was born in South Africa during apartheid to a South African mother and a Swiss father. Being bi-racial in an environment that was literally at war about racial segregation had its own challenges, including poverty and prejudice.

After an abusive relationship with his stepfather, Noah’s mother separated and was granted a divorce. Noah recounts when his brother called him to tell him that their mother had been shot by their stepfather. The bullet went into the back of her head and out her nose. Amazingly the brain and major arteries were spared and she survived.

He goes on to tell Cagle in the interview, “I remember after the shooting, my mother was in the hospital, and all I felt was rage,” says Noah. “My mother said to me, ‘Don’t hate him for doing this, but rather pity him because he too is a victim, in his own way, of a world that has thrust upon him an idea of masculinity that he has subscribed to and is now a part of. As for myself, I do not wish to imbue myself with a hatred that only I will carry.’ ”

Noah also wrote about the traumatic event in his memoir, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood. He says it took him some time to really embrace and adopt what his mother said years ago.

The wait is over! Fetch your copy of #bornacrime today! Available in-stores and online now!

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“I think watching my mom, her growth post-shooting, our family and the way we became stronger, really became the example that I chose to live by. That’s really what I’ve stuck to, and that’s how I try to live my life every day.”


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