Superstardom is, by its nature, a competitive thing. It’s a zero sum game. Every bit of attention you get is some someone else isn’t getting. And, so, it’s no surprise that plenty of people who we know and love have done some pretty reprehensible things to get there, not just pushing themselves forward at the cost of others, but cutting down those nearest to them, thinning the competition. Other times they’re swiping opportunities from friends, or manipulating their friends to profit from their success, then there’s acts of pure spite, ruining their careers in spectacularly awful ways.
You’ve got people on the other side too, people who’ve been wronged. While the life of a superstar might seem perfect, there’s a dark side. When you’re on the rise and the world’s at your feet, there’s going to be a whole lot of people looking to cash in and tear you down. Sometimes they’re just hangers on, or people looking to make a buck, but sometimes it’s people you should be able to trust completely. But when you’re famous, all those rules go out the window and it’s hard to know who to trust. Here are the celebs that were betrayed, and the ones that were the betrayers. This list looks at 8 celebrities who backstabbed, lied, and hurt others to get ahead, and 7 celebs who were the ones that were wronged.
15. Betrayed: Rihanna’s Father Sold A Story About Her To The Press
This entry is not the betrayal you think. In 2009 Rihanna was really going places, flying up the charts and releasing hit after hit, on track to be the mega-star she is now. She was booked to perform at the Grammy awards that year. Her performance was abruptly cancelled. Speculation was rife, but even cynics couldn’t have predicted the reason. When Rihanna was beaten by her boyfriend, Chris Brown, in a moving car, the world was shocked, especially after the awful hospital photos came out, which Brown tried to have suppressed. Then, somehow, it got worse for the songstress. Her own father, Donald Fenty, sold a story on her to the press. Before he’d spoken to her or even checked if she was okay, he was talking to the tabloids with his hand out. They’d always had a troubled relationship due to his long term substance abuse problems, but we can’t imagine that this made it any easier.
14. Backstabbed To Get Ahead: Jon Jones Was Fine With Fighting His Friend Rashad Evans
By now, former UFC champion Jon Jones is an established self-destructive bad boy, but there was a time when his only problem seemed to be that he was too squeaky clean. The first sign that this wasn’t the case was back in 2011. The light-heavyweight title had been a game of musical chairs, and Jones’ team-mate, Rashad Evans, was next for a shot. It’s an uncomfortable thing when there’s a risk of two teammates fighting each other, and Rashad had talked about how he didn’t want to fight his friend. Jones didn’t have that problem. When Rashad suffered a knee injury, Jones took his title shot without a moment’s hesitation, knowing that this would mean Rashad would have to fight him if he wanted his belt back. He knew it was scummy, you can tell because he refused to fight him for two years. By that time, the two’s friendship was long over, and Jones’ brutal win was just adding insult to injury. If only Rashad had known to wait a little longer and watch his former friend self-destruct.
13. Betrayed: Sandra Bullock’s Ex-Husband Was A Scumbag
Sandra Bullock has been a megastar for a long time. She smashed onto the big screen in the early 90s, in Demolition Man and Speed, and has never stopped. She’s shown great versatility, jumping between blockbusters, romantic comedies, dramas and even Oscar winners with ease . She was the top female box office earner in 2009 and even scored an Oscar for herself. All this while looking stunning and without anyone having a bad word to say about her. Being such a superstar, it always seemed strange that she ended up with reality TV show star and professional celebrity Jesse James (not the bank robbing one) After all, she was a huge star, while no one was quite sure why he was famous. Then, in early 2010, he proved all the doubters absolutely right, when it came out that he’d been cheating on her. The marriage ended shortly after.
12. Backstabbed To Get Ahead: Brad Pitt Abandoned His Wife And Dragged Her Through A Media Storm
Brad Pitt has always been a strange beast. He looks like a leading man, but is more comfortable in weird little roles and growing ridiculous beards. He’s the obsession of the entire paparazzi, but has shunned the limelight. Except, of course, when he had a public affair and very public marriage to Angelina Jolie in 2005, at the absolute peak of her fame. Every beat of their romance was covered by the press, with Pitt never forgetting to act like the attention was awful for him. You probably could have done it in a more subtle way, Brad, especially given that you were already a tabloid fixture. His marriage with Jennifer Aniston had featured in almost every issue of every magazine, and it’s hard to keep up an image of shunning the spotlight when you drop your already famous wife for an even more famous one, especially when the one you ditched gets dragged through the tabloids right behind you.
11. Backstabbed To Get Ahead: Gwyneth Paltrow Stole A Script From Her Friend Winona Ryder’s House
You younger readers might only know Gwyneth Paltrow as a hilariously out of touch rich person. It might surprise you to know she used to be in movies as well. At a time when it looked like she was going to be stuck in rom-coms and as the younger woman in Michael Douglas movies, she decided to do something about it. While hanging out with her then friend Winona Ryder, she spotted the script to Shakespeare in Love. Realizing its potential, she decided to not merely also go for the role, but to actually steal the script from Ryder’s house (maybe she didn’t know about photocopiers), she campaigned actively, and ended up winning an Oscar for the movie, backed by the now disgraced Harvey Weinstein. It legitimized her career and put her on the fast track to roles in things like The Talented Mr Ripley and The Royal Tenenbaums and is the reason why we still have to hear about her now.
10. Betrayed: Angelina Jolie’s Father Badmouthed Her In A TV Interview
If you’re a Jon Voight fan, you might yearn for when this was the most embarrassing thing the veteran actor had done. In 2002, Angelina Jolie was in the process of adopting Maddox, the first of her many adopted children. John Voight, her father, had been largely estranged from Jolie due to him cheating on her mother and leaving when she was a child. They’d started talking again, but then he gave a television interview and said Jolie had had mental health issues from childhood, from exactly the time when he left her mom, though he didn’t seem to think his own scummy behaviour was a factor. Even if it had been true, it’s hard to think he had her best interests in mind. It was an inappropriate time to say it, since adoptive parents are under a lot of scrutiny, and he also said it in the worst possible way. It renewed the long term rift between the two. Jolie’s adoption went through, though.
9. Betrayed: Ryan Reynolds’s “Friend” Sold Photos Of His Child To The Press
Ryan Reynolds was betrayed in one of the worst possible ways, as it involved his child. We still didn’t even know who it was, but we do know what they did. The hunky star of Deadpool had entrusted photos of his infant daughter to a close friend. At least, someone they thought was a close friend. It’s not really a friend when they turn around and sell those photos to the press. It must have been infuriating to know that it was a trusted friend that did this, and not just some money-hungry photographer.
It’s the sort of violation of trust you expect from a movie or TV show, something that might set up the sort of rom-com Reynolds is famous for. We don’t know if his experience in those movies helped, but we can be pretty sure they’re not considered friends any more. While this betrayal did not influence his career, it is probably one that hurt more than anything else.
8. Backstabbed To Get Ahead: P. Diddy Managed To Make Money Off His Friend’s Passing
Yes, we know, Sean Combs’ entire catalogue is reworked samples of every one else he works with. He’s the Seth McFarlane of rap. All his work is just skillful remixes of the work of others, leant a lot of legitimacy by his association with the Notorious B.I.G. Combs owned a huge amount of Smalls’ catalogue at the time of his death, which, coincidentally, was when gangsta rap was exploding. It’s hard to be angry at someone for being that lucky, associated with one of the best rappers of all time, but luck didn’t have much to do with it. Combs spent years making sure he owned as much of Biggie’s work as possible, mostly through loaning him money, and then taking a stake in publishing when Biggie couldn’t pay it back. It meant that Combs owned Biggie, even after he was dead. Smalls’ family warned him about Combs, but he mistook him for someone he could trust.
7. Betrayed: Paris Hilton Was Exposed To The Entire World
Paris Hilton was, of course, made famous by something pretty scandalous. It’s the only reason that many of us have heard of her, but it’s easy to forget that the private tape we saw Paris in was sold. It wasn’t leaked, it was distributed by a professional adult video company because the guy in it, poker player Rick Solomon, sold them the rights. This wasn’t some one-night fling either; they’d been together for a few years when he decided to profit off their relationship. Many people joke about this aspect of her life, but we should think about how awful that must have felt for her. It’s hard to feel too sorry for Paris, given how cynically she profited off it, and how perfectly she represents the idea of “famous for being famous,” but it all started with an act of betrayal. She probably played it off as best as she possibly could to deal with such a huge invasion of privacy. It’s an odd thing to remember.
6. Backstabbed To Get Ahead: Clint Eastwood Ruined His Partner’s Career
Again, just for the younger readers, Clint Eastwood hasn’t always been the “a ngry old man.” He used to do a bit of acting. In the 70s and 80s, he was a huge star, and so was his partner, Sandra Locke. You probably haven’t heard of her, and there’s a reason for that. After they split, a studio deal was part of their arrangement. Locke was a big star, and the agreement meant that the studio would invest in her, helping her make more movies and even get her directing. Only they didn’t. Clint had set it up so that they would keep her under contract forever, and make almost no films with her, while stopping her from making movies with anyone else. He effectively ended her career. He went on to continue to be a cultural icon and shout at the rest of us about morality. It’s kind of hard to take him seriously, knowing this.
5. Betrayed: Kobe Bryant’s Mother Sold His Old Things Without His Permission
One of the weirder ones on the list is Kobe Bryant, basketball superstar of nearly 20 years, who had a public falling out with his own mother. She tried to auction off a bunch of his memorabilia. It was just the regular stuff that you try to get rid of so the house doesn’t get cluttered, like a signed 2000 NBA championship ball and a 1996 Pennsylvania High School championship ring. It also included all his old high school trophies, jerseys, and varsity letters, the exact sort of memorabilia a career as amazing as Kobe’s produces. She wanted to do it through the prestigious Goldin auction house, and had received 450,000 up front. It went to court, which was sort of resolved with Kobe receiving 10 percent of the sales… of his own memorabilia. That seems like a poor compensation for finding out your own mother wants money more than memories.
4. Backstabbed To Get Ahead: Tonya Harding Viciously Tried To Sabotage Another Athlete
You knew this was coming. It’s the most famous and blatant example of screwing someone else over to get ahead, and it’s only luck that meant it didn’t work. Tonya Harding was a really, really good figure skater, set to go to the Olympics in 1994. The problem was that her teammate, Nancy Kerrigan, was a bit better. To thin out the competition, Harding’s ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, hired a man called Shane Stant to hit Kerrigan in the knee with a pipe in the hope of crippling her. Luckily, they failed and Kerrigan went on to win silver. Even luckier was the fact that everyone involved was stupid and ended up getting caught. Harding skated at the 1994 Olympics and came 8th, which may help explain why she was so willing to commit a crime to get ahead. These days, Hardy has brokered her infamy into a series of side careers, including boxing, but mostly serves as a cautionary tale.
3. Backstabbed To Get Ahead: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr Scammed His Way To Success
It can’t be easy to have a famous father, and they don’t come much more famous than Julio Cesar Chavez, 6 time world boxing champion and national icon in Mexico. His son followed him into the sport. I can sympathize with someone living in their dad’s shadow, but there’s a better way to do it than Julio did. He wanted the middleweight title, but Sergio Martinez, a tough old Argentinean, had it. So, the WBO created an “Emeritus” belt for Martinez, gave the real belt to a journeyman called Sebastian Zbik, and had Chavez fight him. Chavez won easily, of course, and they made sure to keep Martinez away from him for a year, hoping that Martinez would age out of contention. You can blame the WBO (which included Chavez’s godfather) but Chavez himself was happy to go along with it, and even defended the belt that he had to know he hadn’t earned. It had a happy ending, though. Martinez got his shot and won.
2. Betrayed: Mike Tyson Was Taken Advantage Of By His Trainer
A few different incidents for Iron Mike could qualify for this list. He’s been ripped off by managers, trainers and had a massive entourage of people leeching off his success and fame. However, the cruellest betrayal happened long before all that. According to author Monteith Illingworth, it was Tyson’s first trainer, Cus D’Amato, a 50 year veteran trainer, who wronged Mike first. Illingworth says that Cus knew the inevitable outcome when he adopted Mike, then living on the streets. For the first few years, Mike did nothing but transform into a fighter. Cus knew that the monk-like lifestyle (nothing but training and oatmeal) would snap back one day, but wanted to train one more champion, and saw a lot of potential in the teenager, who would be champ at age 20, the youngest in history. Cus was one of the few positive relationships Mike had, and died when his pro career was just beginning, leaving Mike with only a memory. It’s a hell of a thing to take even that away.
1. Backstabbed To Get Ahead: Lebron James Abandoned His Home State
Honestly, you could pick a lot of free agents in American sports. There are guys like Shaq, who left Orlando for LA, or Brett Favre, who left Green Bay for the hated Minnesota Vikings. I mean, you could bring up the Wade Boggs and Russel Clemens, who both left the Red Sox for the Yankees, deepening one of the bitterest rivalries in sport. However, Lebron James left his home state. Announcing it on ESPN, he left the Cleveland Cavaliers for Miami. For four long years he played for them, winning the title for them twice. Yeah, it has a happy ending, he’s back with the Cavs now and broke their 52-year curse (alongside current UFC heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic), but 4 years was a long time for his home state to feel betrayed and abandoned by their star son. They didn’t know that he’d come back. We wonder if it would have made it any easier.
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