Julie Chen's family story will forever serve as a life lesson.

While on The Talk Thursday, the 46-year-old news anchor revealed a terrible family story that still haunts her to this day. Chen shared that her great-grandmother and aunt were both kidnapped and held for ransom by a group of bandits. Because Chen's grandfather was a successful and wealthy businessman, the bandits demanded payment or else they would murder her family members.

"Because he was wealthy and well-known, this put a target on his back. People knew who he was, so bandits one day kidnapped his elderly mother and one of his teenage daughters—my mom's sister," she explained. "These two women were held hostage and the bandits said that they would kill them if a large ransom wasn't paid for in exchange.

Julie Chen, The Talk


So my grandfather gathered up all the money, got the money together and gave it to his nephew to deliver it for the exchange. Unfortunately, this nephew double-crossed my grandfather, disappeared into the night with the money," she continued. "As it turned out, because of that, the bandits murdered my great-grandmother and my mom's sister in the end ended up marrying one of the bandits who murdered her grandmother."

Despite her family going through this horrific experience, Chen revealed that her grandfather taught everyone a valuable lesson that she still holds dear.

"Now, after all this, you would think my grandfather would be out for revenge and out for blood. In fact, it was the exact opposite. He didn't blame the bandits; he blamed the fact that the bandits didn't have an education," she shared. 

"He said they didn't know better and they were raised with no hope of a future and they had no means to survive, which is why they had to lead this life of banditry. So, what my grandfather ended up doing because of this horrific tragedy in his family, he ended up building a school in his poor, rural hometown hoping that people don't feel have to live a life of crime."

Chen visited the school her grandfather built for TLC's docu-series Who Do You Think You Are? and told The Talk audience that meeting all the kids helped her realize how important her grandfather's work was to the community.

"After talking to everyone I really felt the sense of gratitude because everyone told me, 'This school has completely turned this neighborhood around.' So what my grandfather did essentially worked. The reason that I'm sharing this story today is because I personally learned something very valuable out of it," she explained.

"When you're faced with something so tragic, you can either choose the darkness or you can choose the light. There can be light out of something so dark, but you have to choose the light."

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