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10 Of The Biggest Celebrities Who Grew Up Poor

The Poorest
10 Of The Biggest Celebrities Who Grew Up Poor

Celebrities don’t always seem to appreciate what they’ve got. Sex scandals, drug abuse, and racist and homophobic slurs make tabloid readers feel that they some celebrities really don’t deserve what they’ve got. While many readers lust after the latest car, designer bag or property – only dreaming of being able to afford the extravagance – their favourite celebrity just bought, these celebs probably don’t even give it a second thought.

But not all celebrities throw around their money carelessly. Many, in fact, knew abject poverty before hitting the big time. They had the talent, they got the big break, but they grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. While it’s still easy to feel jealous for these Cinderella stories, it’s reassuring to know that these stars used their talent to get where they are.

The following are ten of the richest, most glamorous and powerful celebs in the music industry today that grew up poor. From nothing to everything, these stars aren’t likely to take their wealth and status for granted.

10. Nicki Minaj

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Known for her outrageous outfits and hit pop songs like ‘Anaconda’, ‘Bed of Lies’, ‘Starships’ and ‘Bang Bang’, Nicki Minaj (aka Onika Tanya Maraj) has come a long way from her troublesome childhood.

Minaj, now worth an estimated $54 million, was born in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago. It was on her MTV documentary that the star opened up about her humble beginnings “My father would yell and curse a lot, we didn’t know but he fell victim to crack shortly after he moved to America.”

After joining her parents in America at the age of 5, her father’s addiction meant there was always a shortage of money. Things went from bad to worse for young Minaj when her father tried to kill her mother in a drug induced rage, creating a lasting effect on the impressionable youth; “When he set fire to the house, he was attempting to kill my mother”.

Luckily times are easier for the star and her family now, but the multimillionaire hasn’t forgotten her humble beginnings: “Don’t get twisted. It’s not about money it’s not about the fame,” the singer says. ‘It’s about – I don’t have to worry if my little brother’s going to be able to get a new toy for Christmas”.

9. Justin Bieber

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Some love him, some love to hate him, but ‘Belieb’ it or not Justin Bieber wasn’t always as popular (or unpopular) as he is now.

Bieber has talked about the value of money before; “I experienced not having a lot of money and growing up poor. I felt like that really helps me today. Especially with money – I see the value of money”. Funnily enough, the teen phenomenon’s recent behavior shows otherwise. With a current estimated net worth of $200 million, Bieber was embroiled in a number of high-profile brawls and bad behaviours that left many with the belief that he is a spoiled brat. From spitting on fans to fights with the paparazzi, the Biebs seems to be running up a growing list of bratty behavior.

Looks like the Biebs may have predicted his own downfall back in 2012, when he told the Daily Mail UK: “I never stop working. In what I wanted to do in music I’ve never had any fear. But now I’m at the top there’s nowhere to go but down; for me it’s about staying standing at the top.”

8. Céline Dion

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Not only did modern classic Titanic rake in one of the biggest grossing box office takings of all time, but Céline Dion’s hit ballad “My Heart Will Go On” also became one of the highest grossing songs ever. Much to the dismay of many men around the world, this became the love song of a generation.

But even before that, thanks to a string of successful hits in the 1990s, this Quebec singer made big bucks. Her current estimated net worth of approximately $630 million. It wasn’t always happy days for the 90s ballad queen, though. She often attributes her parents making the most of her modest upbringing as a reason for her success“[I remember] my mom making me warm before I hit the snow and walk 25 minutes to school. It’s an image I will never ever forget.”

7. Eminem

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Dominating the charts in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Marshall Bruce Mathers III –  better known as Eminem – became one of the first ever white rappers to make it big. How big? He has an estimated net worth of $170 million, putting him up there as one of the richest rappers in the business.

His deprived and poor childhood is common knowledge. He’s rapped about his trailer park mother and impoverished childhood – and the movie ‘8 Mile’ even recounted the events of his life. Back in 2008, Eminem’s mother, Deborah R. Nelson-Mathers, released an autobiography named “My Son Marshall, My Son Eminem”, in which she controversially dismissed claims of the rappers upbringing  “After his first album, Infinite, flopped, he reinvented himself as white trailer trash with a crazy welfare mom. I was shocked when I first heard the lyrics, but he constantly reassured me it was all a big joke. I went along with it for Marshall’s sake.” 

6. Jay Z

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Most recently known as one half of the power couple that is Jay Z and Beyoncé, the rapper has an estimated net worth of approximately $550 million. Apart from being successful with an array of top selling tracks, the rapper is also known for leading Def Jam Records and creating a clothing line.

His life now, however, is a far cry from what it used to be. Jay Z grew up in Brooklyn’s drug-infested Marcy Projects , where he dealt drugs and was led into handling weapons. Despite the conditions which surrounded him, it was his rapping that served as a deterrent and eventually pushed the rapper up and out of the hood.

5. Mariah Carey

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Pop diva Mariah Carey sure knows how to hold a note, or plenty of notes. With an estimated net worth of $520 million, the pop star has successfully stayed in the spotlight for more than 3 decades.

One of the bestselling female artists of all time, Carey holds the record for most No. 1 debuts in Billboard Hot 100 history. Pretty impressive considering she grew up in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Long Island and was close to poverty. Her life has been well documented throughout her career with most recently, her split from her former husband of 6 years, Nick Cannon, dominating the headlines earlier this year.

4. Snoop Dogg

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He famously changed his name to Snoop Lion…and then changed it back to Snoop Dogg. Snoop has kept us on our toes since he popped into the music scene in 1993 with ‘Doggystyle’.

Interestingly enough, his now famous and well recognized name, Snoop Dogg (born Calvin Broadus), was actually coined by his mother, who thought he looked like the character in the ‘Peanuts’ cartoon. After graduating high school, Snoop was arrested several times for drug possession and spent time in prison. For Snoop, much like for Jay Z, rapping and making music was a way out of their troublesome neighborhoods.

3. Kelly Clarkson

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One of the most successful exports of American Idol – with hits like “Breakaway,” “Behind These Hazel Eyes” and “Because of You”, pop singer Kelly Clarkson grew up in tougher times. The pop star told Reader’s Digest “I grew up in a very hardworking family. But we didn’t have a lot of money. I was the kid friends’ parents bought Christmas presents for. “

Unluckily for Kelly her bad luck didn’t end with her childhood. Her first attempt to move to Los Angeles from her poor home in Texas came with more misfortune.  Her new apartment burned down shortly after she arrived in the city, forcing the star to live out of her car, which saw her return to Texas. Thankfully things turned around when she joined Idol. The American Idol winner is now estimated to be worth over $29 million.

2. Cheryl Cole

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Growing up in a rough area that was ravaged by heroin and crime, Cheryl Cole found her way out through embracing the arts at an early age, enjoying drama and ballet. The Girls Aloud star (real name Cheryl Ann Fernandez-Versini) is a prominent TV personality and singer who found fame when she first auditioned for Popstars: The rivals, when she was just 19.

After the group split, Cheryl enjoyed solo success which has definitely contributed to the star’s wealth. With an estimated net worth of $30 million and having featured as a judge on X Factor most recently, it looks like the pop star is only on the way up.

1. Shania Twain

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Who doesn’t know the catchy guitar riffs open the song “Man I Feel Like a Woman”. Country singer, Shania Twain produced numerous hits throughout the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Having just recently announced her last tour ever this year, the stars’ hefty earnings stand in at a huge $350 million, making her one of the most successful country artists of all time.

Times were not always this great for the successful singer, “My mother lived for my career. We were extremely poor when I was a kid, and my mother was often depressed with five children and no food to feed them. She knew I was talented and she lived with the hope that my abilities were my chance to do something special.”

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