Home > Kevin Book > Kevin Sorbo in True Strength: “You can survive and beat your demon.”

Kevin Sorbo in True Strength: “You can survive and beat your demon.”

Kevin Sorbo Anthony Quinn HerculesActor/Director/Producer Kevin Sorbo narrowly missed portraying DC Comics’ “Man of Steel” in 1993’s television hit, “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.” Instead, in 1994 he contracted to play the mythological demigod Hercules that rocketed him to fame in “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys,” the number one syndicated TV program worldwide.

Sorbo didn’t know at the time that he would be tested three years later to truly become a Man of Steel.

Sorbo’s memoir, True Strength: My Journey from Hercules to Mere Mortal ̶ and How Nearly Dying Saved My Life (October, 2011, Da Capo Press), recounts how in 1997 following a United States press tour for his recently released first full-length feature film, “Kull the Conqueror,” he suffered an aneurysm in his left shoulder and three strokes in his brain that almost killed him. He openly discusses hearing two pops in the back of his head, as he describes internally hearing the strokes, that left him dizzy, nauseous and partially blind and connected to life-support machines in Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Hospital with strict instructions to not move or he would “bleed out” (exsanguinate – bleed to death).

This is where Sorbo’s powerful, readable 276-page Triumph-over-Tragedy narrative begins. To say that it’s another Hollywood “Look at me” piece of tripe is grossly erroneous. Sorbo takes readers on his journey of pain, anger, frustration, self-pity, questioning and discovery minus the narcissistic trappings I deplore. He never begs for sympathy, and uses his difficult three-year recovery to encourage other people to have hope, never quit, and overcome their adversities.

Sorbo’s book is amazingly positive and useful. I frequently refer to it for encouragement while enjoying his colorful, casual, insightful style.

Here are some of my favorite passages that summarize Sorbo’s story. Perhaps his words offer a message to you, too!

Career- Kevin Sorbo Model Image
“My three-month European summer vacation had ended up being three years of ‘the road less travelled,’ putting my plans for what I felt was my destiny on hold.

“…A sweet sadness came over me, but it felt good. The heavy shell cracked and light shone in, daring me to come out. I was filled with anticipation.” (page 12)

“After I had been in LA for a few years my hard work was paying off. I was booking so many jobs that my commercial reputation began to catch up with me. …In the three years leading up to Hercules I shot forty commercials. I knew I was doing well when my commercial agent showed me on the casting notice that the client was looking for a ‘Kevin Sorbo’ type. Of course, I did not get that job.” (page 14)

“They all see me as Hercules, not sick or weak or vulnerable. I refuse to disappoint them. The relationship an actor has with an iconic character like mine is intense. …When Charles Barkley says in the Nike commercial, ‘I am not a role model,’ he denies the mantle of responsibility that accompanies everyone who reaches that certain level of notoriety. Though it is true that he does not get paid to be a role model, one cannot refuse the honor just by speaking out against it. It is sewn into the fabric of fame.” (page 111)

Depression and Hope-
“I wish I could say that I didn’t feel sorry for myself. …Thinking positive things when your health is absolutely tanking is difficult. You become self-absorbed: my vanished past, my lost future.

“…thank God I have and always have had a very strong will to live – to succeed, to win, to triumph. …To never give up. To fight for life. Because whatever ails you, you can survive and beat your demon. One way or another.

“You simply have to want life badly enough.” (pages 136-137)

“Before my illness I was fully preoccupied with the material side of life. Moving at the speed of light, I ignored the spiritual side, the unseen. God created this world, but I was determined to live in it to the fullest, to get the most out of it…

“…Lying on the couch with nothing but spare time, I conversed with God and told Him my problems. I asked His forgiveness… …Before this I always wanted more. Now, I just wanted different

“I thanked Him for not letting the strokes kill me and for giving me the chance to still be a father.

“I asked Him to make me whole again. But if this was the best I was going to ever feel, then I asked God to make me strong enough to handle it – stronger than I was now.” (page 143)
Kevin Sorbo True Strength
“My illness made me special – in a way that I never wanted nor expected, yes, but if I was to be special, then I was going to do something with that gift. I wasn’t a half-god or any part god. I was a mere mortal, with human limitations and problems, but I was determined not to behave like a victim anymore.” (page 218)

“…The knowledge that I gained through this painful journey has made me a better, stronger man today. Among other things, my health crisis taught me the great lesson that resting is also a doing – and a necessity. Now, early in the morning, when I am working in my office and one of my children comes in for a morning cuddle, I stop everything… to hold my child quietly, feeling his or her small, trusting weight upon me…

“Sam is an incredible partner on my journey, someone upon whom I easily depend. She is my link, my resource, and my advocate. …She understands I am a work in progress. My appreciation for her runs deeper than any physical issues can touch.” (pages 275-276)

When asked about her favorite parts of the book and how their children react to Kevin’s illness, Sam kindly replied with this:

“My favorite parts of the book are the love story, especially the first meeting,” stated Sam.

“Also, I really like the parts I wrote…,” she joked.

“The kids were not involved in any of the sickness stuff, so they only experience it as a past tense event that we sometimes refer to when Kevin is struggling with his more persistent symptoms, which they are seldom exposed to.”

During a previous interview Kevin spoke with me about his excellent book:

“I think it’s a book people can relate to in a lot of ways, (and) I thought it was time to get it out there; it was time to tell the story. I hope this book is an inspirational book for people that go through and suffer through the same types of things: setbacks and illnesses, because if anything, you find out that everybody’s got a story; everybody’s had some things happen to them in their lives. To have that happen to me, somebody that was everything opposite of what doctors say should be when you get strokes – obesity, smoking, drinking, diabetes, high blood pressure, all these things, I didn’t have any of that stuff – so, for me to still get an aneurysm that sent all these clots into my body and have strokes come along with it, never give odds for that happening. So, it makes for a rather remarkable story, and, Thank God, a more remarkable recovery.”

Please see my complete interview with Kevin:  http://tinyurl.com/833at7u

Please see my interview with Sam:  http://tinyurl.com/7ckzys4

Purchase True Strengthhttp://www.amazon.com/True-Strength-Journey-Hercules-Mortal/dp/0306820366

True Strength website:  http://www.truestrengthbook.com/

Thank you so much, Sam and Kevin!

(Photos courtesy of Kevin and Sam Sorbo)

  1. Rhonda
    April 8, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    Great article,Jan!

  2. Edwin Murray
    May 15, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    I have always been a huge fan of Kevins. I followed his whole Hercules and Andromeda series. I happened to turn to the Dr. Drew show today and saw the interview with Kevin. I went upstairs away from my wife alone and broke down and cried. I have almost died three times in my life and have been left severely physically disabled from two of them. Listening to Kevin made me realize just how much I have given up fighting. I have just curled up waiting and praying for God to just take me. Thank you Kevin for making me realize this. I wish I could afford to buy and read your True Strength book. Maybe it would give me strength to start fighting again.

  3. Anne
    May 22, 2012 at 12:59 am

    Great insights, Jan. I’ve recommended “True Strength” many times, and shared it with a friend whose mother had a stroke (but later died from cancer). She was shocked to learn of Kevin’s strokes, and told me that he was very lucky to have recovered.

    I have reread “True Strength” several times since getting my copy last September, and continue to draw inspiration from Kevin’s words. I now have a much better appreciation of him as a person, as well as an actor/producer/director, especially after meeting him several times over the years (since 2006),

    Pro golfer-turned-analyst David Feherty (mentioned in Kevin’s book) once said, “It’s how you deal with failure that determines how you achieve success.” I feel that Kevin has exemplified those words… and gone beyond them.

    … and I still say the producers of the Golf Channel’s series “Feherty” should get Kevin on that show! 😉

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