Rick Harrison: From Pawn Shop to Reality TV Star

Rick Harrison takes readers behind-the-scenes in new book "License to Pawn."

ByABC News via GMA logo
March 22, 2011, 7:49 PM

June 6, 2011— -- In his new book, "License to Pawn: Deals, Steals, and My Life at the Gold & Silver," reality TV star Rick Harrison describes his journey from opening Las Vegas's famed famed Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, to stardom on the hit reailty show, "Pawn Stars," and the hard-knocks he faced along the way.

Harrison and his family, son, "Big Hoss," and dad, "the Old Man," became unexpected reality TV stars when their store became the subject of "Pawn Stars," now the highest-rated show on the History channel and one of the highest-rated shows on cable TV.

In the book, Harrison shares his personal and professional struggles, from the epileptic seizures he suffered beginning at age eight, to the serious challenges he and his family faced opening their now-famous store, and dealing with the subsequent fame.

He also gives readers an inside glimpse into the pawn business, vividly recounting the story behind the shop, the colorful customers, and the curious items for sale.

Read an excerpt from "License to Pawn: Deals, Steals, and My Life at the Gold & Silver" below, then check out some other books in the "GMA" library

Chapter 1

The Storm In My Head

I was eight years old, lying on my bed, when the world turned upside down. All of a sudden, no warning, without me moving, the floor became the ceiling and the ceiling became the floor. My head buzzed and crackled like a thousand power lines, and the world tilted on its axis. Slowly at first, then faster, until I was no longer aware of any of it.

I awoke later. I don't know how much later. I didn't know what had happened. My tongue felt like hamburger and my body felt as if it had been beaten with hammers. My legs were stiff and painful, my back hurt and my head held the residual buzz of whatever Category 5 electrical storm had struck it.

My parents' room was downstairs. My only thought was to get there; they would know how to handle this. My legs were cramped and constricted. I tasted blood from my shredded tongue. I was scared and confused and tired and just so goddamned scared. I got to my parents' room and knew from the looks on their faces that everything would be different from this point forward.

My first grand mal epileptic seizure, and the countless ones that followed, would define my childhood and much of my life. They struck violently and without warning. They struck mostly at night, and thankfully never at school. They struck with such severe force that I accepted it as a given that I would not live into adulthood.

Surely, at some point, one of these vengeful, raging attacks would cross the line. It would hit with all its wild, paralyzing fury, and I would simply never regain consciousness. From the time the seizures became a regular part of my life, I resigned myself to the idea that they would eventually kill me.

They altered my life in nearly every way. Whenever one hit, I would be out of school for as long as ten days. The muscle pulls were so painful and severe that I could do nothing but lay in bed with ice packs on my hamstrings and quadriceps.

It was there, in that bed in our suburban home in the Mission Valley section of San Diego, that my life changed again. I couldn't do anything. I couldn't move more than a few inches without pain. I didn't have a television in my room. Video games and iPads hadn't been invented. I was left to my own devices.

So I read books.

A lot of books.

I fell in love with a series of books called The Great Brain. These were the first books that captured my imagination. Written by John D. Fitzgerald, about a ten-year-old boy named Tom D. Fitzgerald, narrated by a younger brother known as J.D., The Great Brain allowed me to escape into a different world, a world I couldn't have. I would lose myself inside the pages.