Mark Cuban Recalls the Childhood Fight That Changed His Life

“I thought I would be cool… I never felt so terrible in all my life.”

Billionaires are probably worth listening to. Especially the self-made variety. They've solved one of life's great mysteries: wealth. For the rest of us, becoming a billionaire can seem like alchemy: How do you do it? How do you start? What does it take? In reality, even Mark Cuban, the 58-year-old owner of the Dallas Mavericks and founder of, isn't much different from everyone else.

The ABC reality show Shark Tank co-host and investor, philanthropist, and father-of-three built his empire one tough job at a time until he got into software sales at the beginning of the dot com boom. Today, Cuban is not only one of the most recognizable and respected business leaders in the world, but his name is also frequently tossed about as a potential challenger to President Donald Trump in 2020. (For the record, Cuban still says there's "no chance" he'd run for president.)

But Cuban didn't always demonstrate good judgment. The self-described "fiercely independent" author of How to Win at the Sport of Business and father-of-three, recognized a major Defining Moment when he was just 10-years-old. The turning point, coupled with the wise words of his father, gave him one of the most enduring lessons of his life.

"When I was in grade school, I was one of only two Jewish kids. Name-calling wasn't all that unusual, so I got into a lot of fights. And every time I did, my dad would tell me, 'People who hate have already lost the battle.' You see, treating others fairly and with respect was the most important thing to him. 'Everyone is the same on the inside,' he would say.

"I didn't understand what he meant about losing when you showed hatred until one day in the fifth grade. I thought I would be cool—a tough guy—if I punched this heavy kid everyone was making fun of. So I walked up and punched him in the stomach. The kid started crying, and I never felt so terrible in all my life. It was then that I knew exactly what my dad was trying to teach me. Hurting someone, through words or actions, leaves the biggest scar on the person throwing the punch. I think about that lesson a lot."

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