Buddy DeSylva, part of the famous DeSylva, Henderson and Brown song writing team of the 1920s, missed out on a college education because of his ukulele playing — and it was a college professor’s daughter who taught him to play.
According to an article in Life magazine (30 December 1940, page 52), DeSylva’s academic career was ruined because he preferred to spend his days singing his own compositions to young ladies at the beach, accompanying himself on the ukulele. A talent scout spotted him, offered him $60 a week as an Hawaiian (?) entertainer, which, after only a brief delay, he accepted. He met Al Jolson at the night club, was taken by Al to New York, sold his first song, and his first royalty check was for $16000. He was 22 years old (1917), and he never looked back.
Of course, he had talent.