Before living an easy life in Hollywood, with money continuously flowing into their bank accounts, some of your favorite celebs were hustling to make a buck by selling drugs. In order to pay the bills and feed their families, certain celebs would stand at the corner of a store, waiting for business to begin and praying they wouldn't get caught by the police. Some weren’t so lucky, and ended up facing jail time for up to three years at a time — but it seemed to have been their wake-up call, as it changed their lives for the better, realizing that there was money to be made outside of the drug business. This would go on to launch their careers in the film and music industry.
Below are our top picks of celebrities who are notoriously known for formerly selling drugs to make a living — the list may surprise you. Each and every celeb on this list put the true definition of the American Dream into context; you can start from nothing and become something, if one has the courage to better themselves.
10 50 Cent
50 Cent has never shied away from his troubled upbringing. His deceased mother Sabrina, who famously sold drugs in the streets of Queens, NY, was murdered when 50, real name Curtis Jackson, was just eight years of age. The rapper would go on to live with his grandmother, but times were still tough. In his teens, Curtis needed money and his only outlet in getting what he wanted was by selling drugs himself. Jackson was shot nine times in a shooting back in 2000, over supposed differences he had with associates who used to sell drugs to him. Soon enough, Curtis would go on to leave the drug dealing business and start a music career of his own. To date, 50 Cent has sold 30 million records worldwide.
9 Frank Ocean
Every musician’s favorite singer-songwriter, Frank Ocean touched on his unstable past in a 2013 interview with Oyster magazine. Ocean, who now pens songs for the likes of Beyonce and Jay-Z, admitted to having sold drugs during his high school years, stressing that he didn't know any better since he never had a father figure in his life. "As a young person I didn't have, for lack of a better word, I didn't have a Joe Jackson in my family, " he says. "I didn't have that sort of overbearing stage parent... Or, even, I didn't have a parent who encouraged what I did in that way.”
8 Mark Wahlberg
Mark Wahlberg has always lived up to his bad boy reputation. Having dropped out of school when he was just fourteen, the actor decided that becoming a gang affiliate was where he needed to be. And while his brother Donnie, was slowly reaching for success with his band, New Kids On The Block, Mark began dealing drugs and admitted to a cocaine addiction. His run-in with the police never went unnoticed, notoriously beating up two innocent men — one victim was even left partially blind in one eye due to the severe punch thrown by Mark.
Before he became a rap superstar, T.I was known to be selling drugs in Atlanta, Georgia. The rapper, who was arrested in the 90s for the possession of substances, would go on to explain in a 2007 interview that he sought for independence through his crimes. T.I claims it was his sole income to provide for his family members. “It was me and my mom at that point, and from what I saw of my uncles and what I saw of my pops, they were providers,” he tells MTV, insinuating that he wanted to be looked up to like his father and uncle.
6 Kid Rock
At 15, Kid Rock began selling drugs after running away from home. He joined a gang called ‘Best Friends’ who hustled their way through a decent income that kept them living comfortably enough to provide for themselves. Fortunately enough, all of this would have a positive outcome. A man in the neighborhood was destined to keep the teens out of trouble and approached them about becoming opening acts for his band ‘The Beast Crew.’ Kid Rock agreed to the idea and performed at several gigs where he would go on to meet producer D-Nice. This then led to D-Nice approaching execs over at Jive Records to listen to some of Kid Rock’s music. A record deal was offered that very same day, and the rest is history.
5 Snoop Dogg
Snoop Dogg was smoking weed way back in his early teens, according to Cameron Diaz. The actress who attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School with Snoop told Lopez Tonight how Snoop was known for selling weed at school. She, herself, became a regular customer. "I remember him, he was very tall and skinny. He wore lots of ponytails. I'm pretty sure I bought weed from him. I was green even in high school,” she confessed. The platinum-selling musician actively holds a medical marijuana card, allowing him to purchase weed at any given time. We wonder if he’s still making a business out of it.
4 Fat Joe
Fat Joe had briefly began selling drugs during his teens in South Bronx after having mixed in with the wrong crowd. His fascination with hip-hop culture may have influenced the idea of selling cocaine for a living, since every up-and-coming rapper was doing it. Joe was nicknamed ‘Joey Crack’ during his hustling days in the drug biz, but the rapper eventually realized that he wasn't going to further himself or his love for hip-hop through selling crack/cocaine. Months later, Joe was squeaky clean and pursued a career in music. Relativity Records approached him with a record deal and Joe began working on his debut album.
3 Tim Allen
Tim Allen’s career as a stand-up comedian was cut short in 1978, when the famous actor was caught with 1.4 pounds of cocaine on him as he flew out of Kalamazoo International Airport. Clearly back in the 70s, people didn't think they would get caught in possession of drugs on them at an airport for whatever reason. Allen pled guilty to the charges and went on to expose his drug dealers to avoid a sentence that resulted in life behind bars. After two years in prison at the Federal Correctional Institution, Tim went back to stand-up comedy and slowly attracted the attention of network bosses. By the late 90s, Allen was staggering up to $1 million per-episode on the hit family show Home Improvement.
Today, Jay-Z is one of the wealthiest men in the music industry thanks to his endorsements and ongoing business deals. But twenty-five years ago, Jay, real name Sean Carter, was just another teenage boy trying to make a living through selling drugs in Brooklyn. Carter was well-known in his borough for selling everything from cocaine to marijuana. During this time, Jay was also heavily involved in the music scene; particularly hip-hop. He started recording his own CDs and sold them out of his car. Eventually, it led to him signing a deal with the Priority record label, which distributed his debut album Reasonable Doubt. The record went on to sell 1.5 million copies in the U.S.
1 Notorious B.I.G
The Notorious B.I.G, also known as Biggie or Christopher Wallace, sold drugs in his early teenage years for an income he so desperately needed to take care of himself. His mother, Voletta Wallace, was a single mother who was working multiple jobs to pay the bills, but living as a low-class wasn't good enough for Biggie. Him and his friends would take up different spots in Brooklyn and approach their customers with all kinds of drugs — most favorably cocaine. Voletta went on to kick Christopher out of her home when she found a stash of cocaine under his bed and soon later, Wallace would serve nine months in jail for his illegal activities.