Jeff Bezos opens up about his father and why he was called 'Yeff' as a child

YouTube/Amazon NewsJeff Bezos, right, and his father, Mike Bezos.
  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shared the life story of his father, Mike Bezos, in a new video.
  • “My dad was just 16 when he came to America – and not with his family,” Jeff Bezos said. “He was just a kid from Cuba, and he just had to figure it out.”
  • Bezos said his father called him “Yeff” growing up.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos opened up about his father, Mike Bezos, in a new video that he shared on Thursday.

Jeff Bezos said his father immigrated to the US from Cuba when he was 16 years old, and at the time, he spoke no English.

“My dad was just 16 when he came to America – and not with his family,” he said. “He was all by himself. I have a hard time even imagining that, but his parents sent him here because under Fidel Castro, they felt like they had to, to protect him.”

Jeff BezosYouTube/Amazon NewsJeff Bezos, center, and Mike Bezos, far right.

Mike Bezos raised Jeff Bezos, but he isn’t his biological father. He married Jeff Bezos’ mother, Jackie, when the future Amazon founder was 4 years old. Mike Bezos is also featured in the video, talking about his journey to the US.

“You could only take three of everything: three shirts, three pants, three underwear, [and] a pair of shoes,” Mike Bezos said.

He enrolled in high school in Wilmington, Delaware.

“He couldn’t speak English,” Jeff Bezos said. “He was just a kid from Cuba, and he just had to figure it out.”

Mike BezosYouTube/Amazon NewsMike Bezos said he has lived the ‘American dream.’

Mike Bezos met Jeff Bezos’ mother, Jackie, many years later at the University of Albuquerque in New Mexico.

Both father and son laughed as they recalled how Mike Bezos called Jeff “Yeff” and his mother “Yackie” because of his thick accent.

“There is no ‘j’ in Spanish and he called us Yeff and Yackie,” Jeff Bezos said.

Jeff Bezos also recalled how he gave his father a card that depicted two hands shaking when he became a US citizen.

Bezos cardYouTube/Amazon NewsJeff Bezos gave his father this card when he became a US citizen.

“We had a picture of a handshake that was supposed to be between the US and my dad,” he said. The card also said: “Welcome into the great society of American brotherhood.”

Mike Bezos said he has lived the “American dream.”

“My dad’s story really shows that people help each other,” Jeff Bezos said. “He had an enormous amount of grit and termination, and he had incredibly kind, supportive people who guided him all along the way.”

Watch the full video:

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