Lionel B (Lionel Barnes) went from being homeless and sleeping in his car to becoming one of the most popular YouTubers in a little over two years. The Lionel B Show has gained over 350 thousand subscriptions as fans flock to hear his unfiltered commentary on today’s urban culture.
In 2018, Lionel B lost everything. He lost his job as an IT associate. His girlfriend decided to move on from their relationship leaving Lionel and his son without a place to stay. Determined not to allow his current situation to define who he is as a man, Lionel B kept his unfortunate circumstances hidden from his friends and his mother.
“I didn’t want to face the embarrassment of people knowing I was homeless,” Lionel says. The Tampa native was unable to find a shelter that was willing to take him and his son, that he has full custody of. “Man, the first few days. I slept in the car. I had family in the city, but I didn’t have anywhere to go,” says Lionel.
Being creative at heart, Lionel B noticed a void in the way urban news was being presented on YouTube. With barely $50 in his pocket. Lionel invested in a small microphone. And began creating and editing videos from his phone. “I was grinding,” Lionel tells Chicago Defender. “Even with my phone service being off, I was using free wi-fi. I wasn’t going to let anything stop me.” After posting a few breaking news videos. Lionel says he began getting messages from other Youtubers. Telling him that his channel numbers are going crazy.
“I was surprised. It was crazy. I didn’t even know I was doing those types of numbers. I was just trying to get the next video out. My first check from YouTube was in the 6 digits. It was life-changing. Everything happened so fast. I wake up every morning, and it’s surreal. It’s a blessing.”
Sitting at over 80 million views and going viral over 90 times. Lionel has built a community of loyal followers. With his journalism style, he is entertaining and doesn’t invest his personal feelings in the news he covers.
Lionel’s mother passed away due to complications from COVID-19 in June of 2020. “I lost my best friend,” says Lionel. We would talk every day. Sometimes many times a day. COVID is a very serious disease. We shouldn’t take it lightly. My mom was a fighter. She fought to the very end.”
“It’s all because of my mom. She raised a real one. She raised me to not cry and to get my butt up. She installed in me that don’t quit attitude. Even when I was homeless. Just remembering how she raised me. I figured out a way to pull myself up.”
For more information on Lionel B, visit The Lionel B Show.