Fact Check

Did Will Smith Say, ‘Never Underestimate the Pain of a Person' Because ‘Everyone is Struggling’?

The actor and rapper has been open about his personal struggles since before he infamously slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars in 2022.

Published Apr 4, 2022

 (TechCrunch/Wikimedia Commons)
Image Via TechCrunch/Wikimedia Commons
Claim:
Will Smith said, “Never underestimate the pain of a person, because in all honesty, everyone is struggling. Some people are just better at hiding it than others.”

A statement circulating on the internet for several years that calls for empathy for others has often been attributed to actor and rapper Will Smith. But while he has given countless interviews and made hundreds of speeches, the quote that was circulating again in spring of 2022 may not have been from one of them. 

The same quote made a resurgence after the infamous slap on Oscar night in 2022, when Smith hit comedian Chris Rock for making a joke on stage about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

Smith allegedly once said: “Never underestimate the pain of a person, because in all honesty, everyone is struggling. Some people are just better at hiding it than others.”

On the face of it, this sounds like something he would say. For years, he has been known for sharing life lessons, motivational quotes, and he has been very open about his life and career.

Indeed, the internet is filled with articles like “29 Powerful & Inspirational Will Smith Quotes,” which feature quotes by Smith that are often vague and are not linked to the original source — be it a magazine interview with Smith, a speech he made, or a video he uploaded, like the one above. 

We searched the internet for evidence that Smith said the above words. Over the last few months the Hollywood actor has spoken out about his personal struggles, his turbulent childhood, and how he began shedding the people-pleasing attitude he cultivated in his early career. Though he has spoken openly about his struggles, we could not find evidence of him using the exact words above.

We found a version of that quote in a 2017 book “I Can-Cer Vive: Live Free Be Happy,” that describes author Monya William’s traumatic past and her cancer diagnosis and treatment (screenshot below):

But varying versions of this quote have been on the internet since at least 2012, if not sooner.

We’ve looked across numerous videos, sites, and interviews with Smith, and have not found evidence of him saying these words. We do welcome submissions from our readers showing proof that Smith did say the above. For now, we will rate this claim as “Unproven” and will update this post if we get more information.


Sources:

“Did Chris Rock Apologize to Will Smith?” Snopes.Com, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/chris-rock-will-smith/. Accessed 4 Apr. 2022.

“Never Underestimate the Pain.” Live Life Happy, 29 Aug. 2012, https://livelifehappy.com/life-quotes/never-underestimate-the-pain-of-a-person/. Accessed on 4 Apr. 2022. 

Ryzik, Melena, et al. “A Slap Could Sting the Smith Family Brand.” The New York Times, 2 Apr. 2022. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/02/movies/will-smith-family-oscars-slap.html. Accessed on 4 Apr. 2022. 

Western, Dan. “29 Powerful & Inspirational Will Smith Quotes.” Wealthy Gorilla, 22 Mar. 2022, https://wealthygorilla.com/inspirational-quotes-will-smith/. Accessed on 4 Apr. 2022. 

Williams, Monya. "I Can-Cer Vive: Live Free, Be Happy." United Kingdom, Archway Publishing, 2017. https://www.google.com/books/edition/I_Can_Cer_Vive/lPMIDgAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed on 4 Apr. 2022. 

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.

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