Ashton Kutcher's twin brother, Michael Kutcher, was originally horrified when the That '70s Show star revealed to the world that Michael has cerebral palsy. Michael, 43, tried to hide the disorder for years and did not want to become the face of cerebral palsy. Today, Michael feels very different about Kutcher's 2003 interview, noting that it changed his life for the better.
"I was very angry. Very angry. I remember speaking to him about it," Michael told Today Parents this week. "I didn't want to be the face of CP. I never talked about it." In the 18 years since that interview though, Michael has come to terms with the impact of Kutcher's interview. He said his famous brother's decision to talk about Michael's CP was "the biggest favor he's ever done because he allowed me to be myself."
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A few months after Kutcher's interview, a woman from Iowa called Michael to invite him to a gala to speak about living with cerebral palsy. Since Michael was apprehensive at first, he agreed only to meet with the woman, who brought her 5-year-old daughter Bella with her. Bella had cerebral palsy that was "quite severe and she couldn't talk," Michael said. After Michael got home, he could not stop thinking about Bella. He knew what he had to do. "I realized I needed to let go of the shame I felt and be a champion for people like Bella," Michael told Today. "I was finally ready to tell my story and I knew because of my twin, I'd have a big reach."
Michael was born five minutes after Ashton, whom his family refers to by his first name, Christopher. Their parents were surprised since they only expected one baby. Michael weighed only 4 pounds at birth and his lungs were underdeveloped. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age 3.
Although he felt like everyone else at home, alongside Kutcher and their older sister Tausha Kutcher, Michael was bullied in school. Kutcher was his biggest supporter, always standing up for Michael and only going to sleepovers if Michael was invited. "Most of the time they'd say yes, but sometimes they'd say no, and Chris would go, 'Well, then I'm not coming,'" Michael recalled. "Chris would tell me, 'I wish I could take all of this off of you — and take it myself."
Today, Michael lives in Colorado with his wife and three children. He is also a spokesperson for the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and is an advisor for the new app Joshin, which helps families find care for loved ones with disabilities. The app is named after its founders' late brother. "I love who I am. I love the impact I've been able to make, the people I've been able to touch," Michael told Today. "And I wouldn't have been able to do that If I didn't have these obstacles, or as I like to call them — an opportunity."