Jay Z is now one of the most successful and richest rappers in the industry, having a $1 billion combined net worth with wife and fellow artist Beyonce.
Unknown to some, Jay Z also went from rags to riches. Born Shawn Carter, Jay Z grew up in the tough Marcy Houses housing project in Brooklyn, New York City.
At the age of 11, his father abandoned him, his mother and three siblings. To escape from their impoverished surrounding, Jay Z, together with best friend and neighbor De-Haven Irby, resorted to drug dealing, particularly selling crack cocaine. The rapper managed to earn $100,000 by the age of 17.
“I got into selling drugs at 14. Jay wasn’t getting on with school and he used to come at weekends. Then he moved in with me and my aunt and uncle and I told him, ‘What’s mine is yours’. We made a lot of money. We were 17 and I’d have $100,000 stuffed under the mattress,” the now 44-year-old De-Haven told The Sun newspaper.
De-Haven’s mother treated Jay Z like a son. After his success as a rapper and business mogul, it seemed like he has forgotten those people who helped him in the past, especially De-Haven.
De-Haven commented “Does my mum not deserve a call on Mother’s Day? This is the lady who I woke up at four in the morning saying, ‘Mum, Jay’s in trouble, we have got to get him out of jail.’ He got caught with drugs in his pocket.”
“When she went to go and get him she didn’t say, ‘That’s my neighbor,’ she said, ‘I’ve come to get my son.’ “
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