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Although he's enjoying success now, Chris says parts of his homeless days will be with him forever.

When he was homeless, Chris says he had to know where all of his possessions were and be ready to move at a moment's notice. In the movie, Will only has a suitcase and a bone-density scanner to worry about, but in real life, Chris carried many bags. "I still got a thing about bags to this day. I cannot throw bags away," he says. "I've got a room in my house with nothing but bags. ... If it doesn't have a hole in it or you can tie a knot in it, it's a good bag."

Chris also remembers how he couldn't work late for fear of missing a bus that would take them to a homeless hotel run by Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco. Rooms were limited and if they were late, Chris and Christopher slept in subway stations, Union Park, or even under Chris's desk at work. Still, he remembers the dignity he saw in soup lines and the volunteers at Glide who always made him feel welcome.

Now that Chris is doing well, he uses the experiences of his past to do things for others.
FROM: Homeless to Hollywood: Will Smith and the Real Chris Gardner
Published on November 22, 2006