Read through this article and it’ll make you look at these stars – celebs you previously only knew for their respective professions and their antics in front of the cameras – in a whole new light. Knowing what some of these people have gone through will make everything else seem a tad trivial; that rubbish movie they were in, that awful song, that night of madness, snippets of which were caught on camera – all of it suddenly pales into insignificance when you know what they have had to deal with, what they’ve gone through, what they’re probably still thinking about every single day, and what they’ll have at the back of their minds for the rest of their lives.
Tragedy can strike any one of us at any given moment. If you have kids, it’s them, their health, and their well-being that’s at the forefront of your mind. Everything else comes second. So imagine the feeling of having to bury your own child. Nothing, no other feeling on the planet can be worse than that – it’s a truly indescribable feeling. It’s just not the way it’s meant to go; your children aren’t meant to die before you, so it is truly terrible when things end up like that.
One can only imagine what these stars went through, these celebrity figures who suffered this tragic fate, and being celebrities, they still have to put on brave faces and smile for the cameras, when inside they’re in emotional turmoil. These are 15 stars who experienced the loss of a child:
15 Bob Geldof
Bob Geldof is renowned for his outstanding contribution to music, and to world peace and social justice. Understandably, being the big deal that he is, his kids grew up in the limelight. Pretty much their every move was tracked and scrutinized. On the surface, Bob’s daughter Peaches Geldof’s life seemed to be all roses – or peaches. She was a regular on TV and became quite a well-known TV personality, especially in the UK. She didn’t just rely on her daddy’s money; she carved out a successful career for herself as a magazine columnist and model, but under the surface, all was not well. Her life descended into one of drug abuse, addictions she hid from her loved ones. But on April 7th, 2014, she met her untimely death at her home in Kent, England, and at the inquest, it was deemed to be a drug-related death. Her death shocked a lot of people as she was becoming increasingly more popular on TV and was becoming known to the masses, and understandably, Bob and the rest of the family were distraught, especially since he already had to go through the heartache of burying his wife, Peaches’ mom, who also died of a heroin overdose in 2000.
14 John Travolta
The star of the hit iconic movie Grease, John Travolta has enjoyed an up and down career. He failed to build upon that movie that propelled him to superstardom, but then, a decade or so later, he enjoyed a resurgence, and morphed himself into a singer, dancer, and producer, in addition to his acting.
2009 was one of those years that John doesn’t really want to remember, and that’s not because of his acting. It proved to be one of the toughest years in John’s life, because it was the year he lost his teenage son, Jett. John’s son was 16 at the time, and was holidaying in the Bahamas. Jett suffered from autism and regularly had seizures, and it was while having a seizure that he struck his head against the bath and met his untimely death.
John was crippled with grief, and it was at that moment that he turned to Scientology.
13 Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone’s first son and oldest child, Sage, followed in his dad’s footsteps. He was an actor, film director, film producer, and film distributor, but despite his many achievements over the years, he’ll always be known for playing Robert Rocky Balboa, Jr. – his father’s onscreen son – in Rocky V.
In 2012, Sage was found dead in his Los Angeles home. He hadn’t been heard from for a few days, so people were sent around and that’s when the body was discovered. Empty prescription drug bottles were found at the scene, but it was later revealed that he had heart disease and had died of a heart attack due to atherosclerotic coronary artery disease. Of course, this was a seriously tragic time for Sly and his family, but the grief was to become worse and was compounded by the death of his half-sister six weeks later – she died of lung cancer.
12 Ric Flair
Those of you who know your wrestling will know that Ric Flair’s one of the greatest wrestlers to have ever stepped foot in the ring. His legacy’s continued through his daughter, Charlotte Flair, who’s been killing it in the ring since making her debut, amazingly just four years ago. Well, Ric has other kids – had a couple of other sons – and they got into wrestling before Charlotte. His son Reid was an avid wrestler, who was trying to make a go of things on the independent circuit at the time, and he was the one who coaxed Charlotte into stepping into the ring, saying it’d be awesome if they wrestled together. Sadly though, Reid passed away before he could see his little sis wrestle, and understandably it hit the whole family really hard. Reid was discovered dead in his hotel room in 2013, and the autopsy later revealed he’d died as a result of a heroin overdose. There was also a cocktail of other drugs found in his system.
11 Eric Clapton
English rock and blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter Eric Clapton is a three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and deservedly so. He’s one of the best guitarists of all time and has been in the limelight since 1962, but that’s also meant that he’s led the rock ‘n’roll lifestyle and has battled with drug and alcohol abuse problems. The fact that his son tragically died in 1990 certainly didn’t do anything to help with his state of mind, and he went into a downwards spiral.
Eric’s son, Conor, whom he had with Italian model Lory Del Santo, died at the age of four and a half in a tragic accident while the family were in Manhattan. They were on the 53rd floor of an apartment, and Conor was playing when he fell out of the bedroom window. The cleaner had left the window of the apartment Del Santo was renting open, and that’s when the accident occurred. Eric subsequently went on to write what would go on to become the award-winning song "Tears in Heaven" as a tribute to his son.
10 Vince Neil
Vince Neil, American vocalist and musician, has achieved fame and fortune for being the lead vocalist of heavy metal band Mötley Crüe. He’s attempted to go solo, but he’ll always be known for lending his vocals to that world-famous head-banging metal band. Again, in keeping with the whole rock‘n’roll lifestyle, Vince has dated a lot of women. He’s had a string of unsuccessful relationships, including four wives. It was with his second wife, Sharise Ruddell, a mud wrestler and fashion model, that he had his first kid, a daughter who they named Skylar. But little Skylar had a seriously tough start in life, being diagnosed with cancer, something that ultimately claimed her life at the age of four. She had tumors on both of her kidneys, and though she underwent treatment, one of the tumors continued to grow. It grew to the point where it was pushing against her lungs, affecting her breathing. The cancer continued to spread to other vital organs, and in the end, there was nothing doctors could do.
9 Keanu Reeves
Actor, producer, and musician, Keanu Reeves has suffered heartache on the grandest of scales. In an effort to overcome all the tragedies, he’s thrown himself wholeheartedly into his work, and is consequently renowned as one of the best actors around. But he’d most certainly trade all his accomplishments in the acting world if it meant he could still be with his family.
In 2000, Keanu’s daughter died before they even had a chance to form a connection. His girlfriend, Jennifer Syme, gave birth to Ava Archer Syme-Reeves a month early, and because of this, she ended up being stillborn. As if this wasn’t bad enough, tragedy struck twice. They couldn’t make it work after losing their baby, so Keanu and his girlfriend split up. Both became depressed, and around a year later, Syme was involved in a car accident in which she died instantly. This hit Keanu hard, and he understandably had to take some time off and put his movie commitments on hold.
8 Joe Biden
Joe Biden, succeeded by Mike Pence, was the 47th Vice President of the United States, holding this political position for eight years while Barack Obama was at the helm of the country. He’s also been politically active for years, and has held numerous prestigious political positions. Understandably, now that he’s in his mid-70s, he’s taking things a tad easy, and he deserves to ease off the gas a bit due to all he’s achieved over the years.
Joe’s no stranger to tragedy. In fact, it just shows the strength of the man that he was able to carry on despite the family tragedies he’s faced. In 1972, Joe's first wife and their baby daughter were killed in a car accident. It occurred just after Joe had been elected to the senate; his two sons were also in the car, but they survived.
In 2015, Joe’s eldest son, Beau, died at the age of 46, after a long and hard-fought battle with brain cancer. Truly tragic what Joe’s gone through during the course of his life.
7 Dr. Dre
Dr. Dre, rapper, producer, and entrepreneur, became famous in the mainstream for his association with Eminem, but he’s been mightily successful in his own right. He oversaw the careers of Eminem and many other high-profile stars who are today killing it in the industry.
Dr. Dre’s son Andre Young Jr. died in 2009 at the age of 20 due to a drug overdose. Young’s mom discovered the body of her son, called in the medical professionals, but he remained unresponsive and there was nothing more they could do. He was pronounced dead at the scene, and later, drug tests revealed that he had morphine and heroin in his system and he died an accidental death due to intoxication.
The billionaire entrepreneur took the news hard and disappeared for a while in order to try and come to terms with his loss. It had been a stellar year for Dr. Dre; saying that Young’s death put a damper on things would be an understatement of massive proportions.
6 Mike Tyson
The baddest man on the planet, Iron Mike Tyson, simmered down – a tad anyway – after his boxing career came to an end. But there’s one thing that threatened to make Iron Mike flip – the death of his daughter.
Mike divulged all about it in a special interview with Oprah Winfrey, and people really felt for the troubled man. In 2009, Mike’s daughter, Exodus, who was four years old at the time, was found by her older brother tangled up in a wire that was dangling from an exercise treadmill. The power cord was wrapped around her neck, she was put on life support for a day, but ultimately there was nothing anyone could do.
Mike told Oprah that he didn’t really know the exact details surrounding his daughter’s death, because if he knew and found someone was perhaps to blame, something bad would happen – Iron Mike would be unleashed.
5 Pierce Brosnan
The suave and sophisticated Irish actor Pierce Brosnan achieved worldwide fame for his portraying of James Bond, and after coming down off that high, has still managed to carve out a relatively successful career for himself. But there have been two really low moments in Pierce’s life, one being the death of his wife, the other the death of his daughter, both of whom succumbed to ovarian cancer.
Pierce’s wife, Cassandra Harris, died in 1991. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer four years previously when she became seriously ill, and after a long and hard-fought battle and lots of treatment, the cancer ultimately claimed her life.
Harris had two kids from her previous marriage, and Pierce legally adopted them. They took his surname, he enjoyed a very close relationship with them and thought of them as his own. That’s why when his daughter Charlotte died of ovarian cancer in 2013, he was in bits. To lose a wife to the disease must have been hard enough, but to then lose a daughter to it too, it must have been truly horrific.
Prince touched many people during the course of his career. We got to see the outpouring of love and affection from people, fans and those close to him, those he’d inspired and touched with his musical endeavours all around the world when he passed away last year, and it just showed what an influential, colossal figure he was in the world of music.
He died due to accidental fentanyl opioid overdose, and at the time of his death, he was certainly a troubled man. He’d gone through a lot in his life, including having to deal with the loss of not one, but two of his kids.
Prince’s son was born with Pfeiffer syndrome, a condition that doesn’t allow the skull to form properly. He died a week after his birth. That tore the couple apart, but they tried again, his wife was expecting, but then suffered a miscarriage. This hit them both hard, they were grief-stricken, and their marriage couldn’t survive the strain, so they went their separate ways.
3 Marie Osmond
Marie Osmond is part of the world-famous Osmond clan, one of the biggest and most popular families in showbusiness. She rose to fame by singing with her family, and has then gone on to become an actress, doll designer, and a prominent media personality.
Marie has had to deal with a lot over four decades in the limelight, but the hardest thing by far that she’s had to come to terms with was the death of her son in 2010.
During Marie’s second marriage, the couple adopted five kids, in addition to having two of their own. In 2010, one of her adopted kids, her teenage son, Michael, ended his life and committed suicide. He jumped from the eighth floor of his apartment building. It was later revealed that Michael had been battling with depression for a long time. He was 18 at the time of his death, but had been going to rehab from the age of 12. He left a suicide note for his family which said his depression and addiction had gotten a hold of him and was tormenting him, so he decided he didn’t want to go on any more. The note also read: “I feel like I have no friends and will never fit in.”
2 O.J. Simpson
O.J. Simpson’s legal troubles have been well documented, but legal issues aside, he’s also had to deal with plenty of stuff in his personal life over the years.
In 1967, Simpson married his first wife, with whom he had three kids. Aaren Lashone Simpson was the youngest of the three and the apple of his eye. They were a happy family, but things just didn’t work out between Simpson and his wife, and they ended up getting divorced 12 years later. But five months after the divorce was finalized, tragedy struck. Aeren, who was only one years old at the time, died in a tragic accident. She fell into the family swimming pool and ended up drowning. At first, she entered into a coma, but was then pronounced dead a short while later. The entire family was grief-stricken and Simpson, who was already mentally troubled at the time, found it incredibly tough to cope; perhaps this was one of the factors that led to him going off the rails later in life.
1 Bill Cosby
Stand-up comedian, actor, author, and singer, Bill Cosby, has led a long and colorful life. He’s recently been in the limelight for all the wrong reasons and is experiencing plenty of legal troubles, which could end up meaning he serves prison time.
He’s also dealt with a lot in his personal life, including the tragic death of his son who was taken from him in 1997 in a failed robbery attempt by armed robbers. There was tons of media coverage at the time about that incident, and it touched a lot of people and ultimately led to the killer being caught, convicted, and put behind bars.
Ennis Cosby was driving on the freeway when he pulled over to change a flat tire. A friend came to meet him, and while she was waiting in the car, someone tried to gain entry. She drove away, and when she came back, she found Ennis lying by the side of the road after being shot in the head, lying in a pool of his own blood.