Celebrities With Rough Family Backgrounds


Having a tough family background can be a bridge to greatness. Despite all odds some individuals have rose in glory. We have showcased some of the celebrities who went through hard rocks in their childhood experience and withstood the test of time before coming into that limelight.

Terrence Howard

The Empire actor grew up to witness his father stab a man to death (in self defense). He eventually emancipated himself from his parents and was put on welfare.


Missy Eliot

She grew up in Virginia to an abusive father and a cousin that molested her at age 14. She was even afraid to stay over at a friend’s for fear of finding her mother dead.


Tyler Perry

Tyler grew up through a difficult childhood – molested by his friend’s mother at age 10 and three other men prior to this. His father was so abusive that he once attempted suicide in an effort to escape the beatings.


Nick Minaj

Born Onika Tanya Maraj, Nicki was brought up by a hot-tempered father who went as far as burning their house down in 1987.



At a young age, his father abandoned them and all attempts to reach him proved unsuccessful. Worse still, Marshall was often beaten up by black youth on his block, since he was only one of three white households.


Charlize Theron

Charlize was brought up in an unstable household with an alcoholic father that often threatened to kill them while drunk. Her mother was forced to shoot him dead in self-defense.


Ashley Judd

It has never gotten any much tough than deciding that there is no life again. Her drug usage convinced her that suicide was the way to go.


R. Kelly

Kelly’s father was absent his entire life, and at age 8, he had his very first musical inspiration – his girlfriend, who was washed away by currents and found dead downstream shortly after a fight.

R Kelly Performs At James L Knight Center


The Emmy Award-winning actress lived through four years of sexual abuse from her brother who constantly struggled with substance abuse before he was sentenced to 12 years in prison.


Oprah Winfrey

Oprah, currently North America’s only black multi-billionaire, lived in abject poverty for most of her life, wearing potato sacks for clothing as a child. She endured thirteen years of child abuse by her family members before running away from home.

An Evening With Oprah - Sydney

Earl Simmons

Better known by his stage name, DMX, he grew up a difficult life, often in group homes with more than one family and constant harassment by the authorities.


Leighton Meester

She was born in a federal prison since her mother was serving a jail sentence for involvement in a crime syndicate that smuggled marijuana from Jamaica to the United States. She lived most of her life with her grandmother.


Mary J Blige

She lived most of her life without her father, who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his participation in the Vietnam War, instead with her alcoholic mother and four brothers.


50 Cent

He lost his mother in a mysterious fire at age 8 and content to life without a father after his abandonment. He made ends meet by selling marijuana and crack cocaine until he was arrested and sentenced to 6 months in prison. He adopted the name 50 Cent, synonymous to change.

Justin Bieber and Mom at The 40th Anniversary American Music Awards in LA

Jim Carrey

He grew up in a poor family and struggled to make ends meet as a comedian, with the help of his father. He wasn’t very good and was often booed off the stage.


Angelina Jolie

Jolie lived a largely isolated life, brought up in a modest home, in contrast to the affluent children and their families all around her. She often suffered from periods of depression and struggling with drug and substance abuse. By age 20, she ‘had tried every drug possible’, particularly heroin.


Kelsey Grammer

He grew up almost entirely poor, and his career nearly breaking down in its early stages after incredibly negative reviews and criticisms for his role as ‘Lennox’ in Macbeth.

Boss 2 2012 Gallery

Woody Harrelson

His father was sentenced to life imprisonment where he died while serving his sentence for the murder of a federal judge. He lived through most of his childhood as a woodcarver.


Dylan McDermott

His parents divorced at a young age and he lost his mother to a gun accident, later ruled homicide. He served as a bar attendant in his father’s bar – serving drinks and breaking up fights until he was encouraged enough to pursue an acting career.


Jackie Chan

Jackie Chan was abandoned by his parents at a young age, who went off to Australia to find employment. His family was one of the estranged families of the Chinese Civil War, and he was left alone to study at the Chinese Opera Research Institute for ten years.