Jimmy Kimmel's parents: Stories you've never heard about his rise to the top

TEMPE, AZ - Doing a late night talk show wasn't exactly the plan when Jimmy Kimmel dropped out of Arizona State University to pursue a career in radio.

"He said, if it doesn't work out, I'll go back to school. I figured that's alright," says Jimmy's dad, Jim.

But, his parents, Jim and Joan Kimmel say he never looked back

"Even though there were some very shaky times," Jim remembers.

Never discouraged, about 15 years later, Jimmy would stand in front of a room full of the most powerful people in the world and tell jokes like this:

"Mr. President, do you remember when the country rallied around you in hopes of a better tomorrow? That was hilarious," Jimmy said during the White House Correspondent's Dinner in 2012.

It was the one time his parents admit they were nervous for him.

"What you say that amuses the one group, may not amuse the other," Joan explains.

And, although there were many jokes they didn't approve of, they would never say anything to Jimmy. They say they trust his talent, despite a history of cringe-worthy moments, like this:

"Governor Christie, I think you may be misunderstanding New Jersey's slogan, it's not the Olive Garden state," Jimmy joked at the same event.

"Oh…. I gasped! Ohhhhh, God, Jimmy, please," says Joan.

But, when it comes to Jimmy's comedy, no one's off limits, not even his own parents at the 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. Jimmy had security kick out Jim and Joan from the theatre when he didn't win his Emmy.

"We didn't know. You know, that's a long walk up that aisle in a dress with heels," says Joan.

But, getting to that Emmy stage was a long road.

"There was a period of time there was a standard five or six people who were on call that would show up at the last minute," remembers Jim.

But, those weren't the only stars Jimmy helped shine. 

He was offered "Loveline" with Dr. Drew.

"But, he said Corolla. Adam's the guy for that," says Joan.

And when MTV called and offered him the hosting job for "Total Request Live," "Jimmy said, no, the guy who's the person for that is Carson Daly," says Jim.

And then, there's the time he turned down hosting "Who Wants to be a Millionaire."

"He kind of threw away 20 million dollars doing what he wanted to do," jokes Jim.

But, finally, three years later, Jimmy hit it big with his own late night talk show.

"It's the definition of surreal," says Joan.

"It's just a dream," says Jim.

It's a dream that's transformed so many lives.  It started years ago, when a young boy turned on his own TV and became inspired…. to do the unimaginable.

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