NASA astrophysicist Hakeem Oluseyi talks about memoir, ‘A Quantum Life’

Hakeem Oluseyi’s new book, which has been optioned to be made into a movie, tells his story of overcoming many obstacles.
3:26 | 06/15/21

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Transcript for NASA astrophysicist Hakeem Oluseyi talks about memoir, ‘A Quantum Life’
You know, I had not been to lake ppowell, so if I didn't know We're going to turn now to a story of triumph against all odds. Hakeem oluseyi has a new memoir. "A quantum life: My unlikely journey from the street to the stars," hakeem is with us now. Thank you for joining us. Great to see you, and let's talk about this book. Thank you. It's just coming out today, but it's already been optioned for a movie. I know Chadwick Boseman was developing it before his death. Tell us how you'll remember him. Oh, man. Very gracious. Chad championed my story, and it was picked up on the very first pitch, and he was very gracious with me as well. He schooled me on how to be an author, and have success making movies, and I really appreciated him. This is a story about overcoming obstacles in so many ways. You were born into poverty. You suffered abuse as a child. You also fell into addiction, and crime. How did you get through it? It's called the will to survive. I was a young adult in my 20s, and I was in college, and when I hit my lowest point and, you know, I dropped out of college, and I was working as a janitor in a hotel, and I was so poor that I would eat my -- the leftovers that people left after they had room service, and so I thought I got my big break when the bellhop got fired so I could, you know, get tips and more than double my income, but what ended up happening is they didn't see me as bellhop material, and I realized at that point that wow. I don't have much going for me in my life. Getting an education is going to be really critical to my future. So you had the will to survive. What are the other keys to resilience in your mind? You know, first after, you know, there were a lot of people who did not support me. There were a lot of people who did support me, and so whenever somebody challenged me, my response is, I'll show you. I had a rebellious attitude, so being rebellious and proving people wrong was really important, and the other thing is, never quit, you know, push through the difficulties. Things start feeng really bad, and, you know, I know that's when I'm working really hard, right? I push on through, and eventually, you know, you come out the other side. We live in a land of opportunity here in America. So if you have a goal that depends on education to get there, you can do it even if you come from the most impossible circumstances. We live in a land of opportunity. That is true. We've also seen the consequences of our racial divide playing out every day in this country. You address that in the book. Absolutely. So I had to go through a lot, and so I lived all over the southern border of our country. I lived in south central los Angeles. I lived in Houston. I lived in New Orleans, and I lived in northern Mississippi. I got to see how race plays out across different communities in our country, and, you know, I have had at least ten guns pulled on me in my face through my teen years and my early 20s and, you know, about half of those times were racial incidents, and so yeah. It's a real phenomenon, and, you know, I discuss it in the book. That's not what it's all about. It's really an epic, compelling story of coming of age and being torn between these two states of existence, right? The gangster and the nerd who wants to be a scientist. And you succeeded. The book is out today, "A thanks for joining us.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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