Bay Area teen gets surprise phone call from Kamala Harris after portrait goes viral
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Fourteen-year-old artist Tyler Gordon received a call at his home in San Jose Wednesday afternoon.
On the other end was someone he's wanted to meet for quite a while — Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
"I wanted to call to say thank you for that beautiful work you've done," Harris told Tyler.
Harris called about a portrait Tyler recently painted of her.
He posted a fast-motion video of himself making the painting on social media. It's received a million views and Harris was one of the viewers.
"The way you've done it and for you to be my homeboy, it really touches me deeply. So thank you," she said.
"She just inspires me to keep going. She represents breaking through barriers. Me, myself, I've broken through a lot of barriers," Tyler told KTVU.
Tyler was born deaf. When he was 6 years old, surgery restored 50% of his hearing. But it left him with a stutter.
"I've been doing special exercises, going to speech to help, not get rid of it. But control it," he said.
Tyler and his mother established a foundation called Tongue Tied. It provides help for children with speech impediments. He also spent two years in a wheelchair because of a Vitamin D deficiency.
But his biggest passion is painting. His portrait of Jennifer Lopez got him a trip to New York last year where he met J-Lo and her partner Alex Rodriguez.
"Doing my art makes me feel free. I feel like I can do whatever I want," said Tyler.
He has a message for others: "Express your talent and don't be afraid to be who you are."
During the phone call, Harris explained she was making cornbread and the timer was going off. She said she hopes they can meet in person when she comes to the Bay Area.
After the nearly three-minute phone call, Tyler and the first female vice president to be said their goodbyes.
"Take care. Happy Thanksgiving. Bye," she said.
After hanging up, a stunned Tyler paused for a moment and said, "that was a shock."