James S. Brady is most famous for being shot and severly wounded in an assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan. Despite the handicaps his injuries left him with he has continued to work tirelessly for the causes he believes in, such as better handgun control.
Brady was born in Centralia, Illinois on August 29, 1940. He was always interested in politics, and choose to read Communications and Political Science at the University of Illinois, which he graduated from in 1962. In his final year of college, he worked in the office of Senator Everett M. Dirksen, who was Minority Leader in the U.S. Senate at the time, as well as being an Honor Intern at the U.S. Department of Justice over the summer.
After college, Brady had four different jobs in seven years, quickly moving up the management hierarchy. By 1969 he was executive vice-president of James and Thomas Advertising and Public Relations. It is in this role that Brady learnt the skills that would eventually win him a position in the White House.
From 1973-79, Brady held a number of different public relations posts in Washington, including being a communications consultant to a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, a special assistant to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and Assistant to the Secretary of Defense from 1976 – 1977. By 1979 he had risen to the position of press secretary for presidential candidate John Connally.
Brady's biggest opportunity yet came in January 1981, when President Ronald Reagan chose him to be the new Assistant to the President and White House Press Secretary. However, on March 30th, 1981, outside the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington D.C., John Hinckley fired six bullets from a .22 revolver at the president's entourage. The President, Brady, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and Metropolitan Police officer Thomas Delahanty were all hit. The bullet hit Brady in the left temple, and he fell face-down on the ground. All four men were rushed to hospital, and amazingly, they all survived.
After the shooting, Brady was left with a speech impediment and an inability to walk, but he continued in his job as press secretary until the end of the Reagan administration.
After leaving the White House, Brady has dedicated a lot of his time to lobbying for better gun control with his wife, Sarah. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence was eventually successful in November 30, 1993, when the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, or Brady Bill, passed into law. This required a five day waiting period and background check on all handgun purchases. Brady is also the vice Chairman of the National Head Injury Foundation as well as vice Chairman of the National Organization on Disability.
In recognition of his extraordinary courage and determination, Brady has received a number of honorary degrees and awards, as well as having the White House Press Briefing Room renamed as the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
James S. Brady died in Alexandria, Virginia, from an unspecified cause on August 4, 2014. He was 73 years old.