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From rags to riches: 15 celebs' humble beginnings

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When we think of today’s celebrities, we imagine them rich with glamorous, perfect lives. Even though they may have billion-dollar homes and million-dollar cars, for some celebrities, things didn’t always come so easy. Which celebrities started from the bottom and rose to the top? We will take a look at some celebrities who went from rags to riches. How did these average people become some of the richest celebrities in the world?

Some celebrities may have had an easy life before they made it big and becoming famous just made life even better. This story isn’t the same for all celebrities. Some stars started out living out of their cars, while others barely had enough food to eat. It is hard to imagine big Hollywood names as people who once didn’t fit in with the billion-dollar lifestyle.

In this slideshow, we will see some of the richest celebrities who didn’t always have life so easy. We will uncover their forgotten past and learn what their life was like before they reached the Hollywood scene. What allowed these celebrities to shine and leave behind the life of poverty they used to live? What stars surprised you due their forgotten past?

Take a look at celebrities that went broke here.

Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey Andrew H. Walker /Getty Images

Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey grew up in New York with little to nothing. She and her family were always worried about having enough food and making ends meet. When her parents divorced, it was up to her mother to work multiple jobs in order to pay the bills.

As she got older, she also began working multiple jobs and trying to finish beauty school. Eventually things turned out in her favor when she met record producer Tommy Mottola. Her career progressed from there. Since becoming a celebrity, Mariah Carey has won numerous awards for her singing and songwriting.

Jay-Z
Jay-Z Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Jay-Z

Jay-Z wasn’t always the big music producer and rapper he is today. Before making it big, Jay-Z was living in the projects of Brooklyn, N.Y. Like most struggling families, his father left him at a young age and he was raised by his mother.

To make money and help his family, he resorted to selling drugs. He began rapping after his mother bought him a boom box and eventually uncovered his great talent. Today, he is one of the richest rappers in the world.

Shania Twain
Shania Twain Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

Shania Twain

Don't let Shania Twain's fame fool you. Shania Twain was born to little money and struggled to live a good life. Her family barely had enough money to cover their necessities and she constantly found herself with little food. Twain didn’t tell anyone or ask for help because she knew this could cause Child Protective Services to pull her family apart. 

To make money, Twain would sing at local bars during the late hours of the night. Twain then began joining local bands and people began to recognize her hidden talent. In the midst of her beginning fame, her parents died in a car accident and Twain took her siblings as her own. She wanted to start her own signing career as a solo artist so she put together a demo tape and was signed by Mercury Nashville Records. Today, Twain has five Grammy awards and has sold millions of albums.

Jewel
Jewel Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Jewel

Before Jewel created her famous album, “Pieces of You,” she spent her early years living in Alaska in a household with no plumbing. She was forced to use an outhouse outside the residency, which does not see like a fun idea during the winter season. She and her father began singing at local bars, but she made the decision to branch away and do bigger things.

Jewel began traveling around singing at any place she could while she used her car as housing. Eventually she made it big when she was introduced to a big record producer.

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger Paul Kane/Getty Images

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Today, we know Arnold Schwarzenegger as an actor, a bodybuilder and a governor. Life wasn’t always so successful for this man. He moved to the United States from Austria and didn’t have much money to pursue any sort of career.

To earn money, he started his own bricklaying company and eventually started his journey to becoming a bodybuilder. He became quite successful in bodybuilding and the acting career came shortly after.

Mark Wahlberg
Mark Wahlberg Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Mark Wahlberg

You would be surprised that Mark Wahlberg used to be part of a life of violence and crime. He dropped out of school at just 14 and was becoming an avid drug user. He found himself constantly in trouble with the law and there wasn’t much hope for a bright future. He went to jail for attempted murder and was also involved with multiple assaults.

He decided to clean up his act and put his career first. Wahlberg first reached stardom as the rapper in the group “Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.”  Eventually, he starred in his first film, “The Substitute.” Today, he has been in numerous movies and is even the executive producer of “Entourage, Boardwalk Empire.”

Jennifer Lopez
Jennifer Lopez Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez may seem like she has all the money and glamour now, but her life wasn’t always so perfect. Her song, “Jenny from the Block” reveals some of the hardships and tough past Lopez went through. Lopez was born in Bronx, N.Y., which is one of the poorest towns of New York.

She left home at a young age and lived in a dance studio. She juggled focusing on her career, taking dance lessons, and also working. Today, she is one of the biggest celebrities in multiple industries and holds the titles of  singer, actress and fashion designer.

Leonardo DiCaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio Didier Bavere/Getty Images

Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo Dicaprio can relate his own story to “The Great Gatsby.” DiCaprio grew up in East Hollywood very poor. He was raised solely by his mother and was familiar with violence and drugs at a young age. His mother worked various jobs just to provide for their family.

He began joining the spotlight as a child after he started doing minor commercials. He eventually began doing TV shows and small movies. Today, he is a winner of a Golden Globe for Best Actor and we continue to see him in all the latest box-office hits.

Leighton Meester
Leighton Meester Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Leighton Meester

This singer and actress was born in a Texas prison. At the time of Meester’s birth, her mother was serving time for smuggling drugs. Her mother was allowed to nurse her in a halfway house for a short period of time, but then she had to continue her time in jail. Leighton Meester’s grandmother was then given custody until her mother was out of jail.

Meester began her career with modeling and then moved to Los Angeles to pursue her acting career. She began getting little parts in TV episodes and eventually worked her way up to the top. Today, we’ve seen her as Blair on the series “Gossip Girl.”

Jim Carrey
Jim Carrey Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Jim Carrey

Even though Jim Carrey is one of the biggest stars in movie comedies, he wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Jim Carrey and his family lived out of their VW bus and even a farmhouse to save money. As a child, his father lost his job and this forced Carrey to work night shifts as a janitor. He dropped out of school when his mother became sick and began to take care of her.

He eventually made it big after performing in comedy shows at local nightclubs in Canada. He wanted to move into the film industry so he began taking supporting roles in as many movies as he could. He made his big break in “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.”

J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images

J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling had a different life before the era of “Harry Potter.” Before her famous stories began making millions, Rowling was living off welfare and trying to raise her child. It also didn’t help that her mother passed away during this time of her life.

Her severe depression almost lead her to commit suicide, but writing saved her life. Today, she is the most successful author in the UK and has sold millions of her well-known series.

Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Justin Bieber

We would never think Justin Bieber came from a life of hardship. The singer is one of the most-loved celebrities of our time. Little do people know, Bieber was born to a teen mom and used to live in a house that was infested with rats. He didn’t have his own room or much of a bed, and food was low in the Bieber household.

He taught himself how to play different music instruments and had no musical training prior to becoming famous. Eventually he hit the fame scene when his YouTube videos were discovered.

Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey Paul Marotta/Getty Images

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey wasn’t always the TV star queen. She was born in Mississippi and the daughter of a young teen. Oprah didn’t even have enough money for clothes, so she lived off of potato sack dresses. She had a hard life dealing with sexual abuse from family and even became pregnant at the age of 14. She lost the baby shortly after and began to change her life around.

She went to school and eventually her TV career began to go somewhere. Now she has one of the top TV shows in the nation.

Hilary Swank
Hilary Swank Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Hilary Swank

Hilary Swank lived most of her early life in a trailer park. Once her father left, it was up to her mother to raise her alone. The pair moved to Los Angeles so Swank could pursue acting.

As times got tough, Hilary Swank dropped out of school so she could earn extra cash in small acting positions. She got her big break in “The Karate Kid.” One of her most famous roles was her character in “Million Dollar Baby.”

Eminem
Eminem Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Eminem

From the movie, “8 Mile,” it is obvious that Eminem did not have an easy early life.  As a baby, his father left him and Eminem was raised by his single mother. He spent most of his early years living in a trailer park with his mother and brother.

He dropped out of school at 17 and began trying to make it as a rapper. His hardships didn’t end there. Eminem had a child at a young age and began getting involved with drugs. Once he started getting his life together, his career began falling into place. He eventually got a record deal with Dr. Dre.

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