20 Child Stars Who Made Awful Life Decisions

Hollywood at times can have somewhat of a Peter Pan complex, never wanting to grow up. In this case, never wanting the child stars of Hollywood to grow up. We become so used to seeing them as these cu

Hollywood at times can have somewhat of a Peter Pan complex, never wanting to grow up. In this case, never wanting the child stars of Hollywood to grow up. We become so used to seeing them as these cute, sweet, adorable young actors and actresses but eventually these child stars have to make the transition from child star to adult stars, should they choose to stay in the limelight.

The stress put on child stars is massive, and not every child can handle the pressures involved with being a star at such a young age, especially if they don't have the support of a loving family. Sadly, bright city lights, fame and fortune quite often come at a price for such young stars. Hollywood can very well make dreams come true, but it also can be a place where dreams fall apart. Life in front of a camera makes it nearly impossible for child stars to live like normal kids. This can wreak havoc on young stars as they grow up, often leading to a variety of social and personal issues.

Here is our list of 20 child stars who lost their way somewhere down the path of the crazy life that is Tinsel Town.

20 Matthew Underwood


Matthew Underwood's acting and modeling career began at the young age of six months, and later on he made his way into television in 2005 as Logan Reese on Nickeloeon's Zoey 101. Underwood is definitely not the first Nickelodeon child star to get in trouble with law enforcement, and he is no stranger to getting thrown in to jail either. Back in 2012, he was arrested for possession of a large amount of marijuana and arrested again just three months later for probation violation when he was picked up at Cloud 9, a Hookah lounge, (co-owned by Underwood himself). At 24, Underwood is still young and can turn these past indiscretions into a mere bump in the road on a long and successful career.

19 Taran Noah Smith


The Home Improvement actor who played Tim Allen's youngest son, Mark, on the widely popular 90s show has had quite a rocky post-sit-com experience compared to his Tool Time peers. After the show ended, Smith accused his parents of misusing his earnings and when he was 17 he sued them for control of his money. That same year he married a woman twice his age which eventually led to divorce. The whole experience led him down a spiraling path and in 2012 Smith was convicted with a DUI and marijuana possession. He was sentenced to probation.

18 Shia LaBeouf

Shia LaBeouf sky-rocketed to Hollywood fame with the Transformers movies for his role as Sam Witwicky, but his acting start really began back in 2000 when he was cast as Louis Stevens on the Disney TV show Even Stevens. He grew up enduring verbal and mental abuse by his father, a Vietnam veteran. In hopes of escaping his unhappy home life, Shia would perform stand up comedy at clubs at the age of ten.

At 19 his troubles began. His first serious offense was when he was charged with wielding a deadly weapon after threatening a neighbor for blocking his garage. In 2007, he was arrested for criminal trespassing when he refused to leave a Walgreens store after being kicked out by security. More recently he was accused of plagiarism on three graphic novels he created and since then he has been in and out of the media because of his increasingly odd behavior.

17 Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato was just seven years old when she starred with Selena Gomez in Barney and Friends. She became a popular child star while starring in the Disney movie Camp Rock, which also featured the Jonas Brothers. In 2008, she released her debut album, Don't Forget, and started touring with the Jonas Brothers, it was on tour that she started using cocaine, so much so that she has admitted that she couldn't go more than 1 hour without it. She would even go as far as smuggling it on planes and did lines when her fellow passengers were sleeping beside her, basically doing anything she could do get her fix. Since then she has gone to rehab and was treated for bulimia, drugs and alcohol and is now sober and tries to help other young people with similar problems.

16 Corey Feldman

Feldman's his first film role was in the 1979 film Time After Time. He later appeared in several hit movies including The Goonies, Gremlins and The Lost Boys which allowed him to reach his teen idol status through the late '80s and early '90s. But his rise to fame came crashing down at fourteen, when he started drinking and smoking pot with friend, River Phoenix, and it wasn't long after this that his experimenting became an addiction with cocaine and heroine. This led him to being charged with possession of both drugs and two arrests later he entered rehab. 10 months later he left rehab but was faced with $200,000 in legal and tax fees and was forced to take roles in B-movies before eventually coming across his passion, music. Today, Feldman continues to act and play in his band Truth Movement.

15 Jeremy Jackson

Former Baywatch child star Jeremy Jackson, who played David Hasselhoff's son Hobie on the popular TV series has claimed that he was heavily addicted to drugs while still on Baywatch, which eventually led to his arrest during a methamphetamine raid. After a long stint in rehab the actor claims to have been clean since 2000. It looks like Jackson is in the media again, this time for being kicked off the British version of Celebrity Big Brother for assaulting fellow Big Brother contestant, glamour model Chloe Goodman, while intoxicated. He is also alleged to have attempted to murder his ex-wife in an attack that was caught in a terrifying audio message.

14 Aaron Carter

By the time he was seven, Aaron Carter knew that he wanted to follow in his big brother's (Nick Carter of The Backstreet Boys) footsteps , in a music career and started his own band called Dead End. At 10, he opened for his brother's boy band and landed a record contract. That same year he released his first single, "Crush On You," which went gold in different parts of the world. Unfortunately, fame came crashing down on him in 2009, when he took the 5th place prize on Dancing With the Stars. During this time he became hooked on Xanax to relieve his stage fright and was soon taking 14 milligrams every day, three times the normal dose - an addiction that lasted for three years. He's been clean and sober ever since brother Nick forced him into rehab, but back in 2013 Carter filed for bankruptcy to overcome the $3.5 million of debt he owed.

13 Tatum O'Neal


Tatum O'Neal could very well be labeled as one of the “original” child stars. She is the youngest person ever to win an Academy Award, which she did when she was 10 for her role as Addie Loggins in Paper Moon. On June 1, 2008, O'Neal was arrested for purchasing crack cocaine close to her Manhattan apartment. When police searched her, they discovered two bags of drugs, one with crack cocaine, and the other with powdered cocaine. The following day she plead guilty and agreed to spend two and a half days in a drug treatment program. In her autobiography, A Paper Life, she claimed her father Ryan O' Neal attributed to her drug use through the physical and emotional abuse she suffered from him. He denied these allegations against him.

12 Edward Furlong

At the age of 14, Furlong played the role of John Connor in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The huge success of the movie put him on the Hollywood map, giving him the opportunity to star in various movies like American History X and Pecker. Over the years, he has made some undesirable choices which have affected his career, starting from the age of 15 when he became involved with his 29-year-old tutor, leading to his emancipation at 16. Throughout the 2000s his career headed south, with many allegations of drugs and alcohol abuse, including several arrests for domestic violence. In 2013, Furlong dodged jail time by enrolling in a 90-day rehab program, and one year of domestic violence counselling.

11 Amanda Bynes

Bynes' acting career started at the young age of seven with a commercial for Buncha Crunch cereal. Not long after that she was appearing in popular stage productions including The Secret Garden, Annie and The Sound of Music. Through the late '90s and early 2000s she was on Nickelodeon's All That, which prompted her role on the popular WB sitcom, What I Like About You. Things seemed to get weird fast after Bynes announced she was retiring from showbiz in 2012. Since 2012, she has received DUI's, been charged with two hit-and-runs, and been caught driving with suspended license...twice. She was sentenced to three years probation in 2013, and soon after arrested for possession of pot. What she might do next, nobody knows.

10 Jaimee Foxworth


Jaimee Foxworth is best known for her role as Judy Winslow, in the TV sitcom Family Matters. The series was long running, but after the fourth season she was written out of the show. Her character was a minor one with sporadic lines, but Foxworth wanted a raise, which clearly was not happening. A few years later she joined the band S.H.E with her sisters but her drug and alcohol addiction soon took over her life. 20 years old and desperate for work she turned to porn, starring in several films under the name “Crave.”

9 Dana Plato


Dana Plato is best known for her role as Kimberly Drummond on the sitcom Different Strokes which aired from 1978 to 1986. Plato was let go from the show because she became pregnant with her first child, and the producers didn't feel a teen pregnancy would fit in with the wholesome image they were going for. She eventually found work on various projects, including different made-for-tv movies, voice-over work and independent films. At 34 and struggling with a substance abuse since her early teens, Plato's life came to a tragic end due to an overdose of prescription drugs in 1999.

8 Jodie Sweetin


Jodie Sweetin will probably be forever imprinted in our minds as Stephanie Tanner, who coined the phrase “how rude!” in Full House. She was only 5 years old when she joined the sitcom and had a difficult time fitting in at school and having a normal life, like so many child stars do. Full House was cancelled in 1995 and Sweetin began drinking and partying, leading to a .9 GPA in college. A few years later she married police officer Shaun Holguin and started experimenting with harder drugs, including ecstasy, crystal meth and cocaine. After three years of excessive drug use she entered rehab. Since then she has been divorced three times and has had two children.

7 Lindsay Lohan

Lindsay Lohan began her career at 3 years old as a fashion model, and by 11 she was starring as twins in Disney's remake of The Parent Trap. By the early 2000s she was a household name for pre-teens because of films like, Freaky Friday and Mean Girls but she also became a huge target for the paparazzi. In 2006 she went to AA meetings and rehab for 30 days. That same year she was arrested for a DUI, and just two weeks later she was arrested for cocaine possession, a DUI and driving without a license. Things didn't get better for poor Lohan either, she plead guilty for the various charges and was sentenced to community service, one day in jail and 3 years probation and had to attend an alcohol education program. In 2010 after missing another DUI hearing, she was sentenced to three months in jail but only served 14 days.

6 Haley Joel Osment

Osment's acting career began at four years old. His first feature role was starring as Tom Hanks' son in Forrest Gump, but he became wildly famous for his role as a young medium alongside Bruce Willis in the thriller The Sixth Sense. In 2006 Osment was arrested for driving under the influence. He crashed is car, suffered from minor injuries and was sentenced to three years probation, 60 hours in rehab and a $1,500 fine.

5 Gary Coleman

Gary Coleman was born with health problems that included a congenital kidney defect which required two kidney transplants, stunting his growth and allowing him to reach only 4 feet, 8 inches. When he was 10, Coleman starred in Different Strokes. Although the sitcom was a huge success, all good things come to an end, which was the case in 1985 when the show was cancelled. Not long after, Coleman discovered his parents had cheated him out of his own money. He should have had close to $18 million but was only left with $220,000. He filed a lawsuit against them and received $3.8 million, but because of all the stress from the fraud he endured, he suffered from depression and attempted suicide several times. Coleman filed for bankruptcy in 1999 and in 2010 he was arrested for domestic violence. Later that year he suffered a seizure on the set of The Insider, and on May 26th of that year he fell in his home and died two days later from an intracranial hemorrhage.

4 Britney Spears

At the age of 11 Britney appeared in The New Mickey Mouse Club, joining pop stars Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake. In 1998, she released her first single “Baby One more Time” which became an instant hit, topping the charts later that year. In 2000, she was still topping the charts with a new album and was all over the media with her new boyfriend, Justin Timberlake. They broke up in 2002 and it seemed that soon after her life started to unravel in front of the public eye, shedding her innocent Mousketeer look. In 2004 she married her childhood friend Jason Alexander which lasted two days, and nine months later married her back up dancer Kevin Federline. They had two sons and divorced in 2007. Since then Britney has gone through a party phase, performed awkwardly at the MTV Music Awards, and had a few stints in rehab. Oh yeah, let's not forget the shaved head fiasco.

3 Macaulay Culkin


Macaulay Culkin rose to stardom in the hit movie Home Alone, which ended up being the highest-grossing movie of 1990. In 1995, allegations came forth involving Macaulay's father, Kit Culkin, who was said to have been mismanaging his son's money, which resulted in a nasty custody battle leaving his greedy parents fighting for control of Culkin's fortune. If that doesn't mess up a kid, I don't know what will! Macaulay was arrested in Oklahoma in 2004 after police found 17.3 grams of pot, along with prescription drugs in his possession. He was sentenced to pay $540 in court costs. These days you can see Macaulay Culkin performing with his band  The Pizza Underground, a pizza-themed Velvet Underground cover band.

2 Corey Haim

Teen idol Corey Haim rose to fame after appearing in 1987′s The Lost Boys with Corey Feldman. More interested in hockey than acting, by the time he was 15 he was struggling with being an actor and started taking drugs. Through the '90s his drug problem was a huge factor in not being able to find good work so he appeared in a number of movies that didn't even make it to the box office and went straight to video. In '93 he was arrested for threatening a business manager with a BB gun, and was sued three years later by his insurance company for $350,000 for not disclosing his drug addiction. Four years after that he filed for bankruptcy. Through the years Haim entered rehab a total of 15 times, but unfortunately it was never much help to the troubled star. His addictions finally took its toll on him and he was pronounced dead on March 10, 2010 of an overdose and a bad case of pneumonia.

1 Michael Jackson

Everyone knows about Michael Jackson, how could we not? He's been in and out of the media for the past 50 years, and even after his death in 2009 we still read about him every now and then. He first topped the charts with the Jackson 5 when he was 11, and began his solo career in 1971. By the early '80s he was a prominent figure in pop music, busting out tunes like "Billy Jean," "Beat It" and "Thriller," and that's just to name a few. It's no wonder he was dubbed the "King of Pop." But like everything, fame comes with a price, especially for a child star. In 1993 Jackson was accused of child molestation. He ended up settling the lawsuit, but in 2002 admitted to "sleeping in the same bed with many children." He was briefly arrested but was found not guilty in 2005, and from then until his mysterious death in 2009 Jackson remained highly scrutinized by the media.

Give TheRichest a Thumbs up!

Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheRichest?

Get Your Free Access Now!

More in Celebrity Money

20 Child Stars Who Made Awful Life Decisions