Celebrities who overcame tough backgrounds and upbringings to achieve success are always inspirational. After all, everyone loves a survivor and thriver.
But some stars have such harrowing, dark, and heavy pasts that it is truly amazing how far they’ve come to get where they are today.
MUST-SEE: 16 Celebs You’d Never Guess Grew Up Poor
See some of their most incredible then-and-now photos and stories below.
Celebrities Who Overcame Obstacles Charlize Theron
The actress said she grew up with an alcoholic and abusive father. At the age of 15, she witnessed her mother shoot and kill him in self-defense.
Celebrities Who Overcame Obstacles Queen Latifah
She said when she was a child, a teen charged with her care “violated” her.
Celebrities Who Overcame Obstacles Ashley Judd
Judd revealed in her memoir that she suffered abuse and incest by an unnamed family member growing up.
Celebrities Who Overcame Obstacles Hilary Swank
The actress said parents refused to let their kids play with her growing up—all because she was poor and lived in a trailer park.
Celebrities Who Overcame Obstacles Halle Berry
The actress revealed her mother was married to an abusive man who beat her mom “day after day after day,” even kicking her down the stairs.
Celebrities Who Overcame Obstacles Christina Aguilera
The pop star and her mother said they suffered at the hands of her violent father. “Growing up, I did not feel safe,” she said. She actually ended up using music as an escape from the pain.
Celebrities Who Overcame Obstacles Ellen Degeneres
As a child, she said she watched her mother date men so horrible that she had to kick them out of the house for her.
Celebrities Who Overcame Obstacles Tyler Perry
The actor called his childhood a “living hell,” after suffering emotional and physical abuse at the hands of his father.
Celebrities Who Overcame Obstacles Naomi Watts
The actress’s divorced parents were just about to have another try at their marriage when a tragic heroin overdose killed her father when she was only 7 years old.
Celebrities Who Overcame Obstacles Angelina Jolie
The actress admitted she suffered depression at a young age after her “miserable” childhood in an “unhealthy” hometown of L.A.
Celebrities Who Overcame Obstacles Michelle Rodriguez
She moved around so much as a child, while her father spent the majority of her youth serving in the army. She was later expelled from five different schools.
Celebrities Who Overcame Obstacles Oprah Winfrey
She said she suffered years of sexual and physical abuse at the hands of a family member, and had to wear potato sacks as clothing because her family was so poor.
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