The "Hands" singer-songwriter grew up in an Alaskan farmhouse that didn't have indoor plumbing. Jewel and her father often sang together in bars and taverns to earn money. In 1993, Jewel, then a homeless teenager, was discovered by talent manager Inga Vainshtein in a coffee shop in San Diego. The singer's 1995 debut album, Pieces of You, went platinum with the help of singles "Who Will Save Your Soul" and "Foolish Games."
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The "Good for You" singer, whose parents divorced when she was 5 years old, was raised in Texas by her mother, who gave birth to Gomez at the age of 16. The family often struggled financially during the Disney alum's childhood. In a 2011 E! special, Gomez admitted that her mother had struggled to put dinner on the table, adding, "I remember my mom would run out of gas all of the time and we'd sit there and have to go through the car and get quarters and help her get gas."
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After being abandoned by his father as an infant, the "Lose Yourself" rapper and his mother frequently moved from state to state during his childhood. They eventually settled in Detroit, where Eminem (born Marshall Mathers) was often bullied and frequently fought with his mom, the latter of which became a common theme in his hit singles. In 9th grade, Eminem dropped out of high school due to truancy and poor grades. After releasing his debut album in 1996, the hip-hop star signed with Dr. Dre in 1998 and became a worldwide sensation, winning numerous Grammys and starring in the hit film 8 Mile.
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The "Feeling Myself" rapper's life was uprooted at the age of 5 when her family moved from Trinidad to a poor neighborhood in Queens, New York, following a brief stay in the Bronx. Minaj recounted her tough past in a December 2010 interview with Rolling Stone, saying, "When I first came to America, I would ... pray that God would make me rich so that I could take care of my mother." Since signing to Lil Wayne's Young Money Entertainment label in 2009, the MC has become one of the most recognizable names in rap music.
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The Oscar winner has openly stated through the years that he grew up in a poor neighborhood in Los Angeles, where he was often exposed to drugs and violence at a young age. During his junior year of high school, he dropped out and later earned his GED. At the age of 15, DiCaprio starred alongside famed actor Robert De Niro in 1993's This Boy's Life. He has since portrayed numerous beloved characters in films such as Titanic, Romeo + Juliet, The Aviator and The Great Gatsby.
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The "Piece by Piece" singer, whose parents divorced when she was 6 years old, grew up in a conservative Texas home. In 2001, she moved to Los Angeles in pursuit of a music career. Shortly after arriving in L.A., Clarkson lost her apartment to a devastating fire and was forced to move back to Texas, where she worked at a movie theater, among other low-paying jobs. In 2002, she auditioned for American Idol and became the singing competition's first winner and one of the best-selling artists of the 2000s.
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The "Purpose" singer was raised by single mother Pattie Mallette (who never married Bieber's father, Jeremy Bieber) in Ontario, Canada. During Justin's childhood, Mallette worked numerous low-paying office jobs and raised her son in a low-income household. As fans know, the heartthrob was discovered by manager Scooter Braun in 2008 and has since become one of the most powerful musicians of the 2010s.
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Sarah Jessica Parker
Before she put Manolo Blahnik on the map as NYC style icon and Sex and the City character Carrie Bradshaw, Sarah Jessica Parker was raised in a large Manhattan-based family of eight children, and her mother and truck driver stepfather struggled to get by. But after getting her big break in Broadway as the lead in Annie at age 11 circa 1977, Parker's career took off and she's been a film and TV regular ever since.
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If ever there were proof that hard work and a good attitude can take you far in Hollywood, Oprah Winfrey would be it. The talk show host was born to an unwed teenage mother, raised by her grandmother until she was 6, and later lived with her mother and half-sister in a boardinghouse in Milwaukee. The small family relied on welfare to get by; Winfrey -- who also endured sexual abuse as a young child -- is now reportedly worth $2.7 billion.
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Million dollar baby indeed! Hilary Swank, best known for her Academy Award-winning performances in Boys Don't Cry and Million Dollar Baby, was raised in a trailer park in Washington by her mother until the age of 15, when her mother lost her job and the pair moved to California in hopes that Swank could make it in Hollywood. The mother-daughter duo slept in their car or at friends’ homes, and Swank would later drop out of high school.
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One of Hollywood's biggest comedians didn't always have so much to laugh about. The Canadian-born actor had to drop out of high school as a teenager when his father was laid off, taking on a job as a janitor and a security guard in order to help his family scrape by. When the family eventually lost their home, Carrey, his parents and his four siblings lived in a van. Forbes reports that he now makes around $20 million per film.
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When Camila Alves first came to the United States from her native Brazil at the age of 15, she worked as a waitress and a house-cleaner in order to make ends meet. Four years later, however, she decided she wanted to stay in America, and launched her modeling career in New York at age 19. She married longtime boyfriend Matthew McConaughey in 2012 and the pair have three children together.
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Her story is a famous one by now: J.K. Rowling, who has made billions from her Harry Potter book series, film franchise and related merchandise (and theme parks!), was once a single mother relying on welfare, battling depression, and the "biggest failure I knew." She penned the manuscript for the Harry Potter series at various cafes throughout Edinburgh during the lowest point of her life, but is now considered one of the most influential women in all of Britain.
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His name says it all. Rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z got his start in the Marcy Housing Projects in Brooklyn (off the JMZ subway line), where he was raised by his mother and got involved with crime as youth. The rapper has since moved on to become one of the most successful music moguls in the world, however, dabbling in everything from nightclubs (his 40/40 Club in Manhattan) to clothing (Rocawear) to sports (his Rocnation Sports). Married to Beyonce, he is also part-owner of the Brooklyn Nets.
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One of country music's biggest stars had a bleak time growing up in the wilderness of Timmins, Ontario. Shania Twain's mother split from her father when she was 2, and the household scraped by, often with not enough food to eat or money to pay for heat. As a result, Twain sang in bars at the age of 8 to earn extra income. Twain's mother and stepfather died in a tragic car crash in 1987, causing the singer to put an abrupt hold on her career to return to Ontario to care for her younger siblings.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger is living the American Dream. The Austrian-born actor, politician and body-builder had an abusive, alcoholic police chief father growing up, and was often pitted against his brother in fights. As a result, the former California governor refused to attend the funerals of either his father (in 1972) or his brother, who died in a car crash in 1971. Schwarzenegger instead found his escape in movies and in eventually immigrating to the United States in 1968.
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Gossip Girl's Blair Waldorf may come from a family with means, but real-life fashionista and actress Leighton Meester wasn't quite so fortunate. The Texas native's mother was serving time in a federal prison when she gave birth to Meester, though The Oranges actress has since explained that she and her younger brother had a normal upbringing despite their slightly more unusual beginnings.
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Sean "Diddy" Combs
The music mogul's beginnings can be traced back to a public housing project in Harlem, where his father, Melvin Combs, was shot to death at age 33 in a crime linked to his association with New York drug dealer Frank Lucas. Combs attended Howard University as a business major, but dropped out in 1989, opting to instead intern at Uptown Records and later start his own label, Bad Boy Records. The rest is history.
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Before Scientology, before Top Gun, and before Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise was a young lad growing up in Syracuse, New York, with an abusive father and living in poverty. He first got involved with drama in the fourth grade, and after a few different stints in film in the early 1980s, he hit it big with 1986's Top Gun. He is now believed to have a net worth of $270 million.
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Rapper 50 Cent had a rough time growing up in the South Jamaica area of Queens, New York. The Get Rich or Die Tryin' rapper began getting involved in the drug game at the young age of 12 during the 1980s crack epidemic, and was famously shot at and struck by nine bullets after trying to leave the drug scene in 2000. He was discovered by fellow rapper Eminem in 2002, and worked with him and Dr. Dre to become one of the world's highest selling rappers.
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Halle Berry was raised by her single mother growing up in Cleveland, Ohio. After some success in the beauty pageant circuit as a teen, the Academy Award-winning actress moved to New York City to pursue modeling, where she at one point ran out of money and had to live in a homeless shelter in 1989.
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Demi Moore's upbringing was colorful, to say the least. The acclaimed actress grew up with an alcoholic mother (whom she completely cut off in 1990 after she walked away from a rehab stay Moore had paid for) and a stepfather who committed suicide ten years earlier. She attended high school, but eventually dropped out during her junior year to work at a debt collection agency. She went on to try her hand at a modeling career and acting, but really hit it big with 1990's haunting Ghost.
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Rocky Balboa triumphs all! Sylvester Stallone and younger brother Frank grew up with a rocky childhood, spending time in foster care due to his parents' hostile relationship. He eventually ended up in Philadelphia, living with his mother and her second husband, but he continued to struggle. When he finally decided to take a leap of faith and move to New York pursue acting, he took up all sorts of odd jobs to make ends meet, including cleaning lions' cages at the Central Park Zoo.
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