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Kevin Hart Opens Up About Alcoholic Dad: 'I Learned What I Shouldn’t Be Doing' From Him

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Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Kevin Hart isn’t holding anything back in his new memoir.

In the book, I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons, the actor discusses the difficulties he faced growing up with an alcoholic dad who was often in prison.

“People get to see the comedic persona, but there’s more to me,” Hart tells Variety about deciding to share his personal struggles in his memoir. “This is a story that can be told, and I chose to tell it. It’s funny, but there are serious components to it.”

One of those serious components Hart reveals is that his father Henry Witherspoon was often absent due to his trouble with addiction and run-ins with the law. The Jumanji actor says watching his dad struggle his whole life taught him to avoid temptations as he got older.

“He didn’t escape any of it — jail, drugs, addictions, ruining your family to a point where my mom didn’t want me and my brother to be around him,” says Hart. “Seeing the stuff firsthand. Seeing the reality behind drugs and addiction, and what it can really do to a person, that’s why I don’t do drugs. I learned what I shouldn’t be doing from what my dad did.”

Hart and his father eventually reconciled later in life; Witherspoon even has a relationship with Hart’s children, Hendrix, 9, and Heaven, 12.

Speaking about his supportive mother Nancy, who died in 2007 from cancer, Hart reveals that while the late computer analyst helped her son get started in comedy by supporting him financially, she never went to see him perform.

“She was religious,” Hart says. “There was going to be drinking and alcohol and smoking stuff. She didn’t want to go around that mess. She didn’t like to be in environments that were not conducive to her spiritual growth.”

Nancy was so supportive of her son’s career that when she learned she had terminal cancer, she forbid her family from telling Hart, who was about to head to Australia to shoot Fool’s Gold. The actor was crushed when he learned of his mother’s illness just weeks before her death.

While cleaning out her house, the actor found a box full of articles about his success, proving that she was always supportive of his career — even if she never attended a show.

“Anything I’d ever done, she had it,” Hart says. “She never missed anything.”

On Monday, the star competed in the Poker Central Super High Roller Bowl against the world’s best poker players for almost $17 million and took out the book during the broadcast. Hart’s memoir I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons is available June 6.