It’s tough growing up in the spotlight. That’s true whether you’re a star in your own right, or the child of celebrities. It’s probably a stretch to say that wealth and fame are hardships. Still, it’s become a cliche that being raised in the Hollywood limelight can be dangerous to a person’s health — both morally and physically.
The list of all-time cautionary tales is long. It’s also a mixed bag. There are those who had problems and found their ways to better times (Robert Downey Jr., Drew Barrymore). There are those who have continued to battle their demons, while attempting to push their careers forward (Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan). And there are those – too many – who never made it out (Corey Haim, just to name one of many). It’s a problem as old as Hollywood (and probably older), with legendary names like Judy Garland among the victims of earlier generations.
Not surprisingly, troubles have followed members of the latest generation. Some of the people on this list have troubles of their own making. Some are the victims of circumstance. There are performers trying to build careers and children of celebrities trying to find their own way in the world. But all of them have had to face hardships – drug addictions, legal problems, serious health issues, relationship struggles – all under intense media scrutiny. And this generation of celebrity kids has something to deal with that previous generations didn’t: social media. The emergence of an instant gossip culture on the Internet has magnified problems for these celebrities. Every poor decision and squabble gets instantly reported and permanently added to their online footprint.
15. Kelli Berglund
One of the problems that comes with being famous is that the same issues that everyone faces get blown up by the media. Problems that all young people run into are suddenly magnified by paparazzi and Internet scrutiny. Take Kelli Berglund. She stars on the Disney XD show Lab Rats, as well as on its spinoff Lab Rats: Elite Force. Earlier this year, she was stopped by police at the Coachella music festival for using a fake ID. The 20-year-old tried to get into a restricted area with the fake, leading her to be picked up. She was issued a citation and immediately released. Not exactly a life-altering run-in with the law. However, her mugshot was posted on TMZ and her squeaky-clean Disney image was tarnished. But, as we’ll learn, the Disney image isn’t so squeaky clean – Berglund isn’t even the only Lab Rats star to have a run-in with the police, and hers is probably the least serious of the recent Disney star problems.
14. Emma Roberts
It would be hard enough if your father was a recognizable actor with a long list of famous movie credits. But imagine if your aunt was also the most famous actress of her time. That’s the issue for Emma Roberts, daughter of actor Eric Roberts and niece to superstar Julia Roberts. All in all, it’s turned out pretty good for Emma, who has built a respectable career for herself and at 25 is one of Hollywood’s rising young stars. But look out for her temper. In 2013, she was arrested for domestic violence. She and then-boyfriend Evan Peters, had gotten into a loud fight in their hotel room in Montreal. Someone called the cops and when officers arrived, Peters had a bloody nose (some reports also gave him a bite mark). Roberts was arrested for domestic violence, but Peters refused to press charges.
13. Dove Olivia Cameron
Career-wise, Dove Olivia Cameron goes one better than most of the people on this list: more than just having a role on a popular Disney Channel show, she has two roles. She plays the title twin sisters on Liv and Maddie, which has completed three seasons. She also has a burgeoning singing career, voicing songs on the show’s soundtrack album. Of course, history has shown that a hit Disney show and singing ambitions can be a recipe for future trouble (Miley Cyrus, anyone?). And Cameron’s had some trouble in her young life, though it’s mostly the result of bad luck. Her father, who encouraged Cameron’s early obsession with music, died when the actress was just 15 – a lot for a teenager to deal with, especially one who is just a few years away from significant wealth and fame.
12. Alexandra Jackson
A person doesn’t have to be famous in their own right to have the spotlight shown on their missteps. Being a star’s kid is enough to bring the news media out. Take Alexandra Jackson, daughter of country star Alan Jackson. In 2014, the then-20-year-old was arrested and charged with assault. She was a passenger in a car that was pulled over for speeding. While the officer was talking with the driver, Jackson became increasingly upset. The incident escalated to the point that Jackson hit the officer in the chest. She was eventually taken in, all the while telling the officers that her dad “would do anything” she wanted. It got to the point where officers had to warn her against trying to bribe them. Jackson eventually took a plea deal that included community service and an anger management course.
11. Sarah Hyland
Sarah Hyland has had a good career so far, despite still being only 25 years old. She began acting at a young age, making her a 20-year veteran of Hollywood, even though she’s only been old enough to drink for the last few years. Along with a seven-year stint in a starring role on the hit show Modern Family, she has a long list of movie credits and other TV guest spots. Unfortunately, her personal life has been a little more rocky than her professional one. A disease called kidney dysplasia forced her to have a kidney transplant in 2012. Meanwhile, in 2014, her five-year relationship with actor Matt Prokop fell apart amid accusations of domestic abuse. She eventually got a restraining order against him. Which brings us to our next troubled young star…
10. Matt Prokop
Matt Prokop isn’t a huge star, but if you like third-tier teen movies produced by Disney, you might recognize him. He appeared in High School Musical 3: Senior Year and the made-for-TV movie Geek Charming. He’s best known, though, as the boyfriend of Sarah Hyland (which also got him a guest spot on Modern Family). As late as 2013, there was significant speculation that the two were engaged, with Hyland telling E! News that the couple were “practically married.” Within a year of that report, news was coming out of Prokop’s alleged abuse. In filing for a restraining order, Hyland said that Prokop physically assaulted her and threatened her life. According to court documents, one incident involving a disagreement about one of Hyland’s outfits prompted Prokop to push her against a car and choke her.
9. Marcus Jordan
In his famously aggressive Hall Of Fame speech, Michael Jordan took time to sympathize with his children for having the greatest basketball player of all time as their dad. “You know I think that you guys have a heavy burden,” he said, “I wouldn’t want to be you guys if I had to, because of all the expectations that you have to deal with.” His son Marcus, has had some problems living up to his father’s legacy. In 2012, MJ’s younger son was arrested following an incident outside of a hotel in Omaha, Nebraska. He had gone to a swim tournament there, but got into a drunken argument with two women outside the hotel. Marcus also seems to lack his father’s business sense. When he was a college basketball player, he cost his school a multi-million sponsorship deal with adidas because he insisted on wearing his father’s Nike brand. At least he showed loyalty.
8. Ariel Winter
Is there a curse on Modern Family? (Not as much as on Disney’s Lab Rats, as it turns out.) Along with Sarah Hyland, Ariel Winter (who plays Hyland’s nerdy little sister on the show) has had her share of troubles. In 2012, while still just 14 years old, her sister filed to become her guardian. In the process, the sisters alleged that their mother had been abusive, both emotionally and physically. Less than three years later, Winter became officially emancipated, taking full control of her own affairs. As if the family turmoil wasn’t enough, Winter, like her co-star Hyland, made headlines with a medical procedure. Hers was of a little different nature than her on-screen sister. Winter underwent breast reduction surgery — possibly a first for a young Hollywood actress.
7. Hud and Speck Mellencamp
Rock legend John Mellencamp probably didn’t do his sons any favors by naming them Hud and Speck. Names aside, though, they’ve done their own shares of screwing up so far. In 2015, the brothers were arrested on battery charges after a fight at a party in the small Indiana town that their father made famous in his song, “Small Town.” More embarrassing than the arrest, though, are the details of the incident. Apparently, Speck had gotten into a fight at a party, he left, and then returned with his brother to get revenge. They beat up someone who Speck thought he recognized as his previous opponent. Unfortunately, the guy they attacked wasn’t the same guy that Speck had fought with earlier. Speck eventually got a four-day jail sentence, which he served in 12-hour stints. The arrangement was made due to fears that Speck would suffer a panic attack during the night, when no nurses are on duty at the county jail. If you can’t do the time…
6. Billy Unger
After a few minor movie roles and guest appearances on TV, Billy Unger landed a role on Lab Rats, a kids show airing on Disney XD. In 2014, in the middle of Lab Rats’ four-year run, Unger was arrested in Malibu for DUI. The then-18-year-old had a breathalyzer reading of 0.08, just at the legal limit for adults. But since Unger was under 21, it was still considered a crime. The legal trouble didn’t kill Unger’s Disney career, though. Lab Rats ran through 2016 and was followed up by a spin-off series, Lab Rats: Elite Force. The run-in with the law may have encouraged the actor to change his name. For the new show, Unger is now billed as William Brent, a switch that caused some confusion among fans.
5. Mitchel Musso
Here’s another Disney star who got caught drinking and driving. Mitchel Musso had a few roles on Disney Channel shows. He starred on Hannah Montana, the show that made Miley Cyrus famous (another cursed show?). He provided a voice on the animated show Phineas and Ferb. He starred on the show Pair of Kings. And he was host of the hidden camera show PrankStars. Not a bad start to a career. Unfortunately, one mistake changed the course of his career. In 2011, the actor, then 20 years old, was arrested for DUI in Burbank, California. He was pulled over a little before 4 AM and eventually blew a breathalyzer reading well over the legal limit. After the DUI arrest, PrankStars was cancelled and he was written out of Pair of Kings. Since 2011, he has had trouble getting roles and only has a handful of credits in lower-budget movies.
4. Debby Ryan
Here’s another Disney alum who has had some trouble since leaving the Mouse House. Debby Ryan starred as the title character on Jessie, a Disney show about a hapless nanny taking care of three spoiled Manhattan kids. The show ended its run in 2015 after four seasons. In April 2016, Ryan was picked up for drunk driving. Following the accident, she registered a blood alcohol level of 0.11, above the legal limit of 0.08. She was eventually charged with a misdemeanor and released on $100,000 bail. She soon turned to Twitter to apologize to her fans: “Over the last few days I have had the chance to think about my actions, and I wish I had used better judgement. I recognize that I am a role model and have always worked hard to set a good example for my millions of fans. I am so sorry to disappoint everyone.”
3. Jake T. Austin
It’s sad to say, but the headline “Ex-Disney Star Arrested For DUI” is a relatively common one on TMZ. In that respect, Debby Ryan and Billy Unger are just part of the crowd. Another member of that group is Jake T. Austin, who at one time provided the voice for Diego on Nickelodeon’s Go, Diego, Go! However, his most prominent role came on the Disney series Wizards of Waverly Place, which ran from 2007 to 2012 and co-starred Selena Gomez. The news of Austin’s DUI actually came out in a round-about way. In November 2013, the then-18-year-old was involved in a four-car hit-and-run accident. Austin (or someone driving his car) apparently had crashed into three parked cars before tossing a bottle of Ciroc out of the car window and driving off. Once that story hit the Internet, word leaked out that a month before the crash, Austin had been arrested for DUI in the same car involved in the crash. Coincidentally (or maybe not), Austin’s court date for the DUI was scheduled for the day after the crash.
2. Stephanie Bongiovi
A few years ago in November of 2012, Stephanie Bongiovi (second from left), the daughter of rockstar Jon Bon Jovi, reached the lowest point of her young life. The then-19-year-old was rushed to the hospital after a heroin overdose. Luckily, she survived, but she was forced to call her father and let him know what had happened. He later said that the 2 am call he received was his worst moment as a father. Initially, Stephanie was charged with drug possession, but this was later dropped. The overdose had taken place near her college in upstate New York, and a New York law prohibits charging people who have overdosed with a crime.
1. Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber remains one of the biggest young stars in the music industry. But despite making his initial reputation with a clean-cut appeal, Bieber has already had many run-ins with the law during his young career. In a two-week span during January of 2014, for instance, he was involved in two separate incidents. In one, he egged a neighbor’s house in California. In the second, he was arrested in Miami Beach for DUI while driving a rented Lamborghini. Charges also included driving with an expired license and resisting arrest, though the second charge didn’t involve any violence (he allegedly swore at the officers). That wasn’t the last of his problems for 2014, however. Later that year, he was arrested again in a driving-related incident, this time in his home country of Canada. In that case, the singer was involved in an accident that escalated into a confrontation. The standoff eventually led to an assault charge for the star. His problems extended abroad as well. In 2015, a judge in Argentina issued an arrest warrant against Bieber after the star failed to respond to a summons. The original court action stemmed from a 2013 incident in which Bieber allegedly ordered bodyguards to muscle up a paparazzo.