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According to the National Stuttering Association, about 3 million Americans suffer from this speech impediment which is recognized on International Stuttering Awareness Day October 22. These celebrities are apart of that large figure, but they didn’t let that stop them from fulfilling their dreams.

James Earl Jones

When you hear James Earl Jones’ voice, you know it’s him. His deep, baritone sound has helped the versatile actor find work for more than 60 years. But many would be surprised to know that Jones overcame a stutter as a child. Getting his start on Broadway, Jones has found much work as a voice over artist in his later years. The “Coming To America” star is the voice of CNN but is probably better known for voicing “Star Wars’” Darth Vader. Jones has been featured in the Stuttering Foundation’s brochure of famous people who stutter.

Marc Anthony

It’s hard to believe someone as charismatic as Marc Anthony used to stutter but it’s true. Now known for making the ladies swoon so much they find themselves at a loss for words, Anthony grew up on the streets of Spanish Harlem with a stutter. He found solace in singing. “I used to stutter. And when I sang, I didn’t stutter, and singing became my safe haven,” Anthony explained. “Someone asked me, ‘When did you decide to become a singer?’ I didn’t formally decide. It was just something I was born to do. It was where I lived.”

Eric Roberts

Eric Roberts and his half-sister Julia Roberts both went into the world of acting and they also have something else in common: they both stuttered as children. While America’s sweetheart has gotten over the affliction, her brother had a harder time and withdrew as a child. “I read a lot when I was little because I had the worst stutter in the world,” Roberts said. “The the the wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-water is cold’. And the class cracked up. I suppose it was funny, but it was so painful for me. So I read because it was a solitary thing where I didn’t have to be cracked up at.”

Shaquille O’Neal

Ever since he stepped into the NBA, Shaquille O’Neal has been one of the most charismatic and talkative stars on the court. After a long and illustrious career, the four-time NBA champ began a new life as a sports analyst for TNT. It’s hard to believe O’Neal, who has starred in more than a few commercials along with padding his résumé with several roles, used to stutter as a child. Afraid to speak up in class, O’Neal had no choice but to become comfortable enough in his 7’1″ frame and fully embrace being the center of attention.

Tiger Woods

Long before Tiger Woods was ranked as the number one golfer in the world, his parents were grooming him for greatness. That same will to succeed helped him overcome a stutter in childhood. “The words got lost, you know, somewhere between the brain and the mouth,” Woods described to “60 Minutes.” “And it was very difficult, but I fought through it. I went to a school to try and get over that, and I just would work my tail off.”

Emily Blunt

Sometimes teachers can have a profound impact on a student’s life and that was the case with Emily Blunt. “The Devil Wears Prada” actress stuttered as a child and it was a teacher that convinced a 12-year-old Blunt to try out for a school play. Not only did this help her overcome her stutter but it sparked something in the future starlet and she certainly gained confidence. Blunt’s first major role was in a play opposite the famed Judi Dench.

Kenyon Martin

Growing up, Kenyon Martin would stumble over his words, but there was one place that he could dominate without saying a word. On the basketball court, Martin was an entirely different person and it was the speech disorder that pushed the future NBA baller to excel. However, he still stuttered and would avoid interviews while playing ball in college. It wasn’t until he stopped caring about what anyone else said and confronted his speech disorder head-on that he improved.

Ron Harper

Kenyon Martin and Shaquille O’Neal aren’t the only ballers in the NBA who have the speech disorder. Ron Harper enjoyed 15 seasons in the NBA, but the Dayton, OH native has stuttered for much of his life. Not letting that get in his way, the former Los Angeles Lakers star has even tried his hand at acting with a guest appearance on “Keenan & Kel.” Harper donates his time to the National Stuttering Association to encourage others with the same disorder to not let anything hold him or her back.

Wayne Brady

Wayne Brady is the ultimate entertainer who can sing and dance just as easily as he can crack jokes to make his audience laugh. But growing up, Brady wasn’t always so eager to open his mouth. Suffering from a stutter, the future talk show host was reluctant to speak because he was constantly being picked on. “I’m going to shut up, then you can’t make fun of me,” Brady recalled of his childhood. “Either you break under that pressure as a kid, because bullying is no joke, or you learn to take it and give it back and do it in a way that gets a positive response.”

Samuel L. Jackson

No one can curse quite like Samuel L. Jackson. A lot of that has to do with the fact that cursing helped Jackson get over his stutter. Growing up in Tennessee during the 50’s, Jackson was teased as a child because of his stutter and cursing helped him out. “I was the other day on the set of ‘Captain America’ and they said ‘Action!” and I said, ‘G-g-g-et …’ It was a G day,” Jackson said about his ongoing stutter. “So I have my days. I have G days, I have P days, I have B days, I have S days, and I’m still stuttering. But I figured out a way to do it. And some days, the best thing for me to do is say my favorite word, and I get through it.”

Chris Martin

This British rocker used to stutter as a child and sought the help of a speech therapist to overcome it. Martin, who recently split from his longtime wife Gwyneth Paltrow, still stutters every once in a while.

Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson is one of the more popular players in the NFL and despite the fact that he stutters, he welcomes all of the attention. “People look up to us,” Peterson said. “I feel that if someone who has a similar problem or a real disability sees me interact with people who I don’t know, maybe it can encourage them. You never know who is in the audience when you go to an elementary school and give a speech. You might have a straight-A student, but he or she might have a speech impediment. Instead of taking that extra step to be an excellent student, he or she might settle for being average because they’re embarrassed.”

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