Teenage pregnancy has long been an uncomfortable subject in the United States. But all is not lost for girls who find themselves taking care of children at a young age. Fortunately, many teen moms have gone on to raise successful children that you watch daily on your television or movie screen. Some of these women have even cultivated the minds and work ethic of some of the most influential people the world has ever known. A number of these women have even gone on to achieve success in their own lives.
Many of these celebrities have experienced admiration and undying love for their mothers. After all, a young girl making important sacrifices for the well-being of someone else is always to be commended. Being a mom comes with its share of challenges, no matter the mother’s age, but raising a baby in the midst of hard financial times, societal scrutiny and raging hormones, is never an easy task. Raising a child who grows into a high-functioning, well-adjusted adult with morals and common decency is usually all a mother can hope for. These celebrities and their moms are shining examples that adverse situations can turn around with hard work, dedication and love. Here are 10 stars who were born to teenage moms.
10 Gretchen Wilson
Wilson made her way onto the country music scene in 2004, with the single Redneck Woman, which won a Grammy. The next year, Gretchen Wilson released the album, All Jacked Up. The title track from the album became the highest-debuting single for a female country singer. Her next album in 2007, One of the Boys, got to fourth place on the Billboard charts, and was number 1 on the country music charts.
But Wilson’s life wasn’t always filled with success. Her mother had her when she was 16. Her father left two years later, and she and her mother lived in trailer parks during Wilson’s childhood. What seems like overnight fame for Wilson was actually a lifetime interest in music and a desire to live a life free of financial worry. She now has her own record company, Redneck Records. She released the single Work Hard, Play Harder on the label, as well as the holiday album, Christmas In My Heart.
9 Jared Leto
Jared Leto’s mother was a high school dropout and gave birth to him when she was a teen in Bossier City, Louisiana. When Jared was young, his parents divorced, and he and his brother lived with his mother’s parents. His father remarried, but committed suicide when Jared was 8 years old. In an attempt to find a sense of belonging and decide what he wanted to do with his life, Leto dropped out of school in the 10th grade. He later returned to finish high school and then went on to film school in New York.
These days, Leto is the lead singer and primary songwriter for the band Thirty Seconds to Mars, which has sold more than 15 million albums around the world. Jared is also known for his roles in My So-Called Life, How to Make An American Quilt and Panic Room.
8 Selena Gomez
Selena Gomez’s mother was 16 at the time of the future actress’ birth. The actress and singer recalls the difficulties her family faced financially, including having to put spare change together for gas money. Gomez also recounts that her mother worked three jobs at one point to support her. Her parents divorced when she was 5.
As a child actress, Gomez was featured on the popular kid’s show Barney and Friends, along with actress and singer Demi Lovato. She then went on to achieve success on the Disney Channel when she starred in the show, Wizards of Waverly Place. Gomez also performed the theme song for the Disney Channel show Shake It Up. Selena Gomez is also a singer. She and her band, The Scene, have enjoyed significant touring success. She is currently working on her second studio album.
7 Jamie Foxx
Both of Jamie Foxx’s parents were teenagers when he was born in 1967. Not long after his birth, Foxx, who was born Eric Bishop, was adopted by his mother’s adoptive parents. He credits his grandmother/adopted mother for her positive influence on his life.
Foxx, an accomplished singer and actor, began playing the piano at the age of 5. He was the choir director at his church as a teenager. He also had dreams of being a football player as a teenager, and was the first athlete at his high school to pass more than 1,000 yards.
It’s safe to say that Jamie Foxx is not regretting his decision to be an entertainer too much. He’s enjoyed the success of his own sitcom, The Jamie Foxx Show, as well as roles in popular films such as Dreamgirls and Ray, which won him an Oscar. Foxx most recently starred in a modern remake of the family film classic, Annie.
6 Dr. Dre
Dr. Dre, one of the kings of West Coast Hip Hop, has music in his blood. His 16-year-old mother gave up her gig as a singer to raise him. Dr. Dre’s parents got married the year before he was born (1964), but separated and divorced a few years later.
Dr. Dre, whose real name is Andre Young, started his career with World Class Wreckin’ Cru, and later experienced success with the rap group NWA, of which Ice Cube was a part. He has experienced notable group and solo success when it comes to items, and his entrepreneurial skills are pretty impressive as well. His popular headphones, Beats by Dr. Dre, were released in 2008. The following year, Dr. Dre confirmed a partnership with Hewlett Packard to distribute his electronic devices, making him the “richest man in hip hop.”
5 Lil Wayne
Lil Wayne’s mother was 19 when he was born. Two years later, his parents divorced and his father abandoned him and his mother. Although the rapper and fellow New Orleans hip hop artist Birdman, have stated that they have a father son relationship, Lil Wayne’s biological father, Dwayne Carter, Sr., is still living.
Lil Wayne dropped out of school at 14 to focus on his music career, even though he was an honor student. In 1996, he became the youngest member of New Orleans rap group, the Hot Boys. His hits with the group included Bling Bling and The Block is Hot. Despite legal troubles over the years, Lil Wayne has enjoyed notable success in his solo career, and has his own record label, Young Money, to which Nicki Minaj is signed.
4 Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber’s mom, Pattie Mallette, was just 17 years old when she gave birth to the future chart-topping pop star. The actor, singer and songwriter has asserted that he and his family struggled financially when he was younger. His parents never married, and he lived with his mother, grandmother and step-grandfather. However, Bieber has always communicated with his father.
When Justin Bieber was younger, he attended a French language immersion school. He also learned to play the drums, trumpet, piano and guitar. He became a YouTube sensation when his mother uploaded a video of him singing So Sick by Ne-Yo. Mallette posted the videos for friends and families to keep up with Bieber’s singing career.
Bieber has recently been in the spotlight for his reckless behavior, which many have attributed to being young and perhaps too rich for his own good. Bieber has also been romantically linked to Selena Gomez. He has since apologized for many of his actions, and still continues to experience success in music. His second album’s title track, Believe, got to #2 on the Billboard charts, and he recently made an appearance in fellow Canadian Carly Rae Jepson’s music video for the song, I Really Like You.
3 Jack Nicholson
This famed actor, producer and writer was born to a 16-year-old showgirl named June, although some sources indicate that she was 17 at the time of Jack’s birth. Nicholson’s mother married an Italian showman named Donald Furcillo, six months before her son was born. However, Furcillo was already married. He admitted to bigamy and claimed to be Nicholson’s actual father, but other sources indicate that Eddie King, June’s manager, was Jack Nicholson’s biological father.
For much of his life, Jack Nicholson believed that his maternal grandparents were actually his parents, and that his mother was his sister. He was informed of the truth by a Time Magazine reporter in the 1970s, but by this time, both his mother and grandmother had passed away. Nicholson, a writer, actor and producer, has gone on to achieve great success. He is known for films like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, for which he was Oscar-nominated. He is also popular for films such as Terms of Endearment and As Good As It Gets.
2 Oprah Winfrey
The queen of media was born to an 18-year-old mother in Mississippi. Winfrey endured severe hardship during her childhood, including sexual assault when she was 9 and a pregnancy at 14. Her baby, a little boy, passed away when he was a baby. To avoid the pitfalls of becoming a teen mom herself, Winfrey went to live in Tennessee with her father, who was a barber. She took a job at a local radio station during high school. By 19, she was anchoring the evening news.
As we know, the rest was lucrative history when it comes to Oprah Winfrey’s career. She had one of the most popular talk shows in the world, has co-authored five books and even has her own radio station and TV network. She has also appeared in popular movies like The Color Purple, as well as recent films such as The Butler and Selma.
1 President Barack Obama
Our 44th and current U.S. President was also the son of a teenage parent. Obama’s mother was 18 when he was born. The president was born in Hawaii to an Irish mother and an African father, who is named Barack Obama, Sr.
President Obama’s Kenyan father had seven other children, six of whom are still living. His mother had another daughter with her second husband, who was Indonesian. Due to Obama’s time in Jakarta as a child, he knows how to speak basic Indonesian, which may have helped him to develop a bond with his sister. The two mourned the loss of their mother years ago, and their maternal grandmother passed away in 2008, two days before he was elected president.
The president’s story of triumph from a humble upbringing is especially inspiring and provides proof that hard work and dedication can bring about monumental results.