Tommy Lee Osborn was born on December 23, 1923, on the small family potato farm, in Grady County, Oklahoma.
He was the seventh and youngest son of thirteen children, born to Charles Richard Osborn (1883–1966) and his wife Mary (née Brown) (1885–1951).
His father, also a seventh son, was a nonpracticing traditional Baptist, “That’s supposed to mean something,” Osborn once commented, adding “Turns out, it did mean something.” His parents were musicians, as were several of his brothers and sisters, and Tommy Lee started making music at a very young age. Growing up in the latter half of the 1920s, he saw his large family struggling through the depression years.
In 1930, when Osborn was six years old, his father moved the family to Skedee, Oklahoma, in search of another, more profitable farm. At a church in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, he met future televangelist Oral Roberts, who would become his lifelong friend for over 70 years, until Roberts’s death in 2009.
Osborn frequently went with Roberts to help with evangelical meetings. Roberts did most of the preaching, Osborn did everything else, including playing the accordion and the piano for the musical part of the meetings. Osborn had experienced a Christian conversion in 1937, at the age of 13, when his older brother took him to a Pentecostal church in Mannford.
Gradually, each of his six brothers moved out of the family home until TL was the only boy still living with his parents and helping his 60-year-old father on the potato farm. He admitted that he was reluctant, even scared, to ask his father’s permission to move out and begin traveling….
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