If you don’t know who Amber Portwood is, that means that you have been able to successfully stay away from MTV reality shows, gossip magazines in grocery stores and ignore shameless plugs at MTV award shows. Congratulations on your satisfyingly productive life. For the rest of us, we know that she is the star of MTV’s hit reality spin-off show Teen Mom OG (which stands for “Original Girls”) being a previous cast member of MTV’s 16 & Pregnant.
While critics and professionals have different opinions regarding the effect these shows have had on the public and the birth rate to teenage mothers, one thing is clear: the show is a whopping success. The girls who were once sixteen, pregnant and struggling to find a way to support their babies now drive those eight-year-old children around in luxury cars to their luxury homes. Amber Portwood is no exception.
She has been through a lot, from her teenage pregnancy to drug addiction to domestic violence charges to prison and she has no shortage of romantic rumors and scandals. 27-year-old Amber now lives in a large, lavish home with a driveway full of expensive vehicles but let’s peel back the layers a bit and explore the past and present with fifteen things you didn’t know about one of the most infamous teen moms out there.
15. She’s Seriously Considering Joining The “Other Industry”
There has been a lot of buzz lately surrounding Amber and talk of a possible $500,000 “leaked” (yeah, right) s*x tape deal à la her Teen Mom OG co-star and frenemy Farrah Abraham‘s Back Door Teen Mom um, film which just so happened (or not if you believe the rumors that Amber and Matt are obsessed with Farrah) to be produced by Vivid Entertainment, the same company that Amber met with earlier this year in May.
Amber met with Vivid bigwig, Steven Hirsch, who has been keeping a tight lid on the details of the meeting. What we do know is that Amber was not alone in the meeting. She brought her tag along 46-year-old boyfriend (yep, that is a 19 year age difference!) Matt Baier with her to presumably discuss his part in the production. Since the couple has now changed their status to “it’s complicated” there’s no doubt that the reality of a s*x tape starring these two is murky right now to say the least. Time will tell but let’s hope for the best outcome for humanity which would be a no-go on the deal.
14. She Started Experimenting With Illegal Substances At Just 9 Years Old
When Amber made her debut on the Dr. Phil show, following Teen Mom OG co-star Farrah Abraham’s famous footsteps on the therapy show, no one was ready for the shocking confession that Amber made in regards to her drug use. It wasn’t what drugs she did or the fact that she had done drugs at all that was shocking, it was the claim that she was in the fourth grade, just nine years old, when she first started experimenting with illegal substances. This horrified and saddened the audience, reasonably so. For this scary story to really hit home, Amber’s daughter, Leah Shirley is nine years old now. Luckily, by all accounts, Leah is a happy-go-lucky, bright and well-adjusted child who is being raised in a stable environment. Her childhood is much different than the childhood Amber recalls for herself.
13. She Was In 6th Grade When She First Attempted Taking Her Life
Amber has been as open and candid as one would imagine someone could be about her multiple suicide attempts, most recently the one that her ex, Gary Shirley, the father of her daughter, was involved with. Back in 2011, Gary was the one who called 911 after fearing that Amber was going to commit suicide based on the things she was telling him. The infamous 911 call is available online and has been talked about numerous times. But not many people know that Amber’s first suicide attempt was when she was a sixth-grader.
Re-telling the sad story, she said that she tried to hang herself in the bathroom of her childhood home by attaching a rope to the bathroom fan. The attempt failed, obviously, and Amber said the fan always made a funny sound ever since. Talk about a painful reminder.
12. This Hideous Tattoo HAD To Be Mentioned
Amber doesn’t regret her lovely daughter, Leah of course but we’re pretty sure that she regrets having a huge tattoo of Leah’s face that covers most of her midsection. Not her finest decision but hey, she was only twenty years old at the time and had come into a sweet influx of cash thanks to the good and responsible folks at MTV so it’s a safe guess that she wasn’t thinking clearly.
Amber’s torso tribute of her daughter’s gigantic face on her tummy rivals her on-again, off-again fiancée Matt Baier’s tattoo of Chinese characters which he swore to the world meant “clean and sober” (though he admittedly got the tattoo while he was anything but clean and sober) but thanks to fans of the show, we all now know that it really means “Lisa.” Either his tattoo artist had no idea what he or she was doing or Matt’s got some more ‘splainin’ to do!
11. She Taught Anger Management Classes In Jail – Seriously
Part of Amber’s prison time was selflessly dedicated to improving the lives of her fellow Rockville Correctional Facility inmates where she counselled women in anger management. Amber served seventeen long months of her five-year sentence before being released on good behavior. During those seventeen months, Amber peer counselled one hundred and fifty women and taught anger management classes. This was clearly a bright spot in Amber’s life and was even discussed on the most recent season finale of Teen Mom OG with Dr. Drew, a discussion that brought Amber to tears. It is something that has carried over into her daily life on “the outside” as well. She has said that she enjoys being a positive role model to young girls who look up to her and regularly chats with fans across social media, even offering her advice at times.
10. She Said A “Real Woman” Shouldn’t Open Her Mouth About Being Abused
On the recent episode entitled, “Truth Be Told” of Teen Mom OG, Matt Baier agreed to take a lie detector test and Amber was present when the results were read. When asked the question if Matt had ever made sexual advances towards a woman named Tiffany, he did not pass. This prompted Amber to call Matt a slew of hurtful names as well as promising to beat him for his attempts at infidelity.
What happened later in response to this scene was even more shocking for some viewers. On an Instagram live video, Amber told her fans that she has actually been on the other end of domestic violence.
She angered many people when she said, “However, I never opened my *bleep* mouth about anyone ever *bleep* hitting me! Anybody! Because that’s what a real woman does! I can *bleep* take that.”
9. Ex Gary Shirley Isn’t The Only One To Feel The Wrath Of Her Violent Streak
Every mega popular Teen Mom star has that one defining quality, good or bad (usually bad) that helps to cement their name in the minds of the show’s viewers and rocket them away to MTV infamy. Much like Farrah and her s*x tape deal, Amber is widely known as the girl who beat up her baby daddy. This infamous baby daddy beatdown was conveniently captured by MTV’s cameras and Amber faced charges and court for the assault.
But her ex, Gary Shirley, is not the only one to feel Amber’s fiery wrath. She and Matt Baier had denied recent rumors that she beat him. They both claim that the leaked photos of Matt’s bruised face and arm are fake but given her reputation, many people believe that violence exists between the couple and accusations have been tossed both ways.
Something that is not up for debate is the fact that MTV cameras caught Amber lunging at Matt and threatening to beat him up after he failed a lie detector test that implicated he had been unfaithful.
8. “No Ragrets”
When Amber was twenty years old, she had recently lost a good amount of weight (around sixty-five pounds) and was feeling pretty good about herself. She was even in a new relationship, one that required she send nude selfies apparently. Amber complied and was then promptly granted a membership into the revenge p*rn victim club. In 2011, she claimed that someone that she trusted stole her private photos and leaked them for the world to see.
“It makes me sad that anyone would do this, and I’m horrified that something so private is being shared publicly,” Amber has said of the incident. Lesson learned? ‘Fraid not. Following a fight/temporary split from Matt Baier this year, Amber posted a pic to her social media account of her laying in bed and though she was partially covered by a sheet, it was clear she was not wearing any clothing. Many of Amber’s fans believe the photo was a “kiss off” to Matt.
7. Both She And Her Baby Daddy Were Each Other’s Firsts
They were on and off for about three years but Gary and Amber felt like their relationship was finally in a good spot. Until the day came that teenage Amber felt something might be a little off and decided to take a home pregnancy test in the bathroom of the Wendy’s fast food restaurant where she was working hard to be management material. A couple of minutes later and with a positive test in hand, plans quickly changed.
With a baby on the way, Gary and Amber now were determined to make it work. With the wild side that Amber so often displays and Gary’s past “playboy-ish” attitude, some people may find it hard to believe that Gary and Amber were virgins before entering their relationship but that’s what they say so we believe them. Gary said that when he told his parents about Amber’s pregnancy, they were shocked because they believed their son was a virgin. “My bad,” Gary has said of that moment.
6. Tragedy Ripped Through Her Family At A Young Age
Any Teen Mom OG fan worth their sugary salt knows that Amber’s brother, Shawn, otherwise and affectionally known as “Bubbie,” is a very big part of her life. Amber looks up to him and often seeks Shawn’s advice for some of the major decisions in her life. Watching the show, it would seem that Amber’s only sibling is Shawn but when she was just five years old, tragedy struck the young Portwood family.
Amber’s baby sister, Candace died of sudden infant death syndrome and the ripples of this tragedy undoubtedly affected the surviving family members (dad Shawn Sr. passed away on December 16, 2014 after undergoing liver surgery at age 50) to this day.
Even though she was so young, Amber recalls the traumatic events of that horrible day: “I remember a stretcher coming in. I remember my mom screaming. I remember her on the edge of the bed. I remember my dad.”
5. Pills, Pills And More Pills
Unfortunately, Amber was one of millions of people who have been hooked on opiates. She said that the first pill she ever abused was Adderall. Soon after, she found herself spiralling into a pill-popping nightmarish addiction.
In her own words, Amber described her opiate drug usage: “Adderall wouldn’t be the last pill I’d swallow. Not by a long shot. What I didn’t realize yet was that there were a lot of different kinds of drugs out there to take, and it would only take me a couple more tries to find something I actually did like.”
This all started for Amber at a young age but at sixteen, when she discovered she was pregnant, she stopped abusing pills entirely but her sobriety would be short-lived because when her daughter, Leah, was just six months old, she started taking pills again. With the pressures of motherhood and the stress of her failing relationship, life had taken a toll on teenage Amber. She said, “But I was already reaching the limit with my unhappiness and stress, and I was almost begging for something to come along and offer me a way to escape.”
4. She’s Not A Belieber
Just like her co-stars, Amber Portwood is no stranger to peddling her time on the daytime TV circuit. In 2014, she was an esteemed guest on The Maury Show which was featuring out of control teens that day and when Maury brought up the topic of Justin Bieber, Amber made her opinion of the heartthrob singer and wannabe bad boy loud and clear.
She told Maury that Bieber just wants attention and she, for one, does not approve of his behavior. Though to be fair, the audience started booing loudly at the mere mention of The Biebs and if daytime TV has taught us anything, it’s that you do not, I repeat, do not anger the audience of The Maury Show. “It’s about money and publicity,” Amber said of Justin’s wild antics which prompted a round of applause from the pleased audience. Hmm. Money and publicity. Sounds a bit familiar, eh Amber?
3. Dozens Of Dogs And Dirty Homes?
Amber and Matt have been accused by some of their fans and non-fans alike of keeping a dirty house and chastised for not picking up after their many animals properly. But a bigger critic was the former landlord who started a lawsuit against the couple for six thousand dollars in damages. In official documents, the landlord claimed that special paint with deodorizer had to be used on the whole house due to the smell the couple’s unsanitary habits left behind. Amber claimed that it was nonsense since they had the house professionally cleaned and that Zuluscape, the property management company she had rented from, just wanted to take her to the cleaners since they knew she was on a reality show and therefore, must be loaded.
2. Tough Talker
Okay, maybe you already knew that Amber Portwood enjoys talking tough but did you know just how much? During her court sentencing for possession of an illegal prescription drug charge and the judge was generously offering her rehab with zero prison time, Amber proclaimed that she will always be a “bad girl” and asked to be sent to prison instead of court-ordered rehab. She stared down the imposing sentence that most people would have found intimidating and certainly not have chosen for themselves, by stating that she had great plans for prison like getting her GED and working some of the programs that the prison offers in order to make the most of her time.
On the show, Amber is known to regularly bring up her seventeen months of hard time and can curse a string of salty swear words that would make a sailor blush. Cross her and you’ll find out for yourself.
1. Before She Went To Prison, She Was Never Sober On Camera
Learning that Amber had substance abuse issues in her younger years of MTV fame might not be so shocking. Learning that Amber was high in some scenes of the show might not even be shocking but not everyone knows that Amber was not sober for any of the episodes of 16 & Pregnant or Teen Mom before she came back from her prison sentence. It’s true! She told Dr. Phil that she used prison as a way to get clean and all of the footage shot pre-prison, she was high in whether it’s obvious to the viewers or not. Many people have applauded Amber for being so courageous with the decision to be open about her drug use and her dedication to sobriety.
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