10 Stories of Perseverance
Who doesn’t love a good American Dream story, especially one with a happy ending? We as a species tend to appreciate uplifting and inspiring tales of others’ success, especially during our own times of need.
This article will focus on 10 such stories of perseverance; covering some famous (and some less famous) millionaires that were all once hard pressed for cash. While yes, there are many actors, singers and movie stars that can share their rags to riches stories, but not many of them can claim that they were once homeless. This list, however, will particularly focus on those millionaires that weren’t only dirt poor, but also at one point or another without a home.
While the name Jim Carrey echoes with itself an immediate connotation of happiness and joy, it wasn’t always the case in Carrey’s own life. Especially not during his rough upbringing. The tough times began when Carrey’s father – an accountant – lost his job when Jim was just 12 years old. Shortly after, Carrey reportedly dropped out of high school and had to live in a Volkswagen bus with his whole family – parked all over Canada. Eventually the Carreys settled down in a tent on Jim’s older sister’s lawn, parking the VW van in the driveway. While this may sound like a very sad story, Carrey managed to find the positive. He said that it was during these tough financial times is when he developed a sense of humor – one so dominant that it would eventually make him millions over and over again.
Next on the list we have Oscar-winner Halle Berry. Berry is another undeniably talented human being that had a rough patch in her earlier years. When she first risked everything and moved out to Chicago to become an actress, she had quickly run out of money. After asking her mother for financial assistance and not getting a penny of support, Berry was forced to stay in a homeless shelter. The experience, while unfortunate, has helped Berry develop some of her character. “It taught me how to take care of myself and that I could live through any situation … I became a person who knows that I will always make my own way,” says the actress.
Phil McGraw, or likely better known as just Dr. Phil, was only 12 years old when he and his father (who interestingly enough was interning as a psychologist) were living out of a car in Kansas City. Clearly McGraw was intrigued by his dads career path, as he himself went on to obtain a bachelor’s, master’s and finally a Ph.D. in psychology – all to eventually join his father’s practice in Texas. His key to fame came from Oprah, who in the 90s invited McGraw to appear on her show. After quickly becoming a regular on the Winfrey show, Dr. Phil eventually became his own personally by launching his syndicated advice program.
Currently, the world renowned pop star and actress is worth in the neighbourhood of $300 million, but this was definitely not the case during her younger years. The singer can be quoted saying that she “didn’t want to go to college,” but just wanted “to try dance full-time”. Jennifer’s mother did not approve of her daughter’s choice, and Lopez herself admits that “[her] and her mom butted heads”. The pop phenomenon left home at the age of 18, and was forced to sleep on the sofa in her dance studio when she wasn’t able to afford rent. Lopez reportedly told her mother that “this is what [she] had to do” – and sure enough, she was dead on. A few months later she landed a great gig dancing in Europe.
Things weren’t always as good for Clarkson as they are now. Before getting her big break on American Idol, the star had dealt with a chain of unfortunate events. While struggling to make it as a signer in Los Angeles, Clarkson’s home caught fire. The apartment burned down and the pop sensation was forced to live out of her car – reportedly showering at a fitness club that she was a member of. These tough times were added to the pile of hardships that likely inspired Clarkson’s hit song, Stronger. Her luck turned around when she became the winner of American Idol’s first season, successfully launching her bright career.
The legendary and highly admired past CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, was not always as successful as he was during his latter years. In fact, quite the opposite – the mastermind behind household products like the iPod and iPhone was down-and-out during his college years. During his iconic commencement speech at Stanford University, Steve Jobs shared his experience with the graduating class. “I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple.” While the circumstances were stacked against Job’s in his youth, he was able to turn it around by building a tech empire that made him a millionaire many times over.
Hollywood superstar – Sylvester Stallone – didn’t always have it made. His upbringing was rather tough, and most people in his shoes would have given up many times over. Not only did no one want to take a chance with Stallone, but many would write him off entirely. After being evicted from his apartment, Stallone spent three weeks sleeping in the New York City Port Authority bus station. If that’s not heartbreaking enough, things got even worse when the actor had to part with his beloved companion. Stallone sold his dog to a complete stranger for $25, just to be able to afford a meal. Things did eventually turn around for him, and his acting career took off with a 1970 softcore pornography film titled “The Party at Kitty and Stud’s,” which earned him $200 that helped put him back on his feet.
Two time Academy Award winner for Best Actress in a leading role, Hilary Swank is arguably one of Hollywood’s most talented actresses with a current estimated networth of $40 million. At the moment, you will likely find Swank in her luxurious home in the mecca of the movie industry, but her residential conditions weren’t always as pleasant. Back in the early ‘90s, years before Swank came to fame (or even began her career for that matter), she and her mother had to sleep in their car after first moving to Los Angeles. Eventually living conditions improved – when the Million Dollar Baby star and her mother started sleeping (on air mattresses) in an unfurnished home that her friend was selling. While unfortunate, these conditions didn’t last too long, and within months of their arrival, the Oscar-winning actress started landing roles allowing for more permanent accommodations.
It’s been nearly 20 years since Jewel introduced her remarkable singing ability to the world. And while things have been going more than well for Jewel since, she certainly hasn’t forgotten her roots – especially the struggles endured during her efforts in making her way in the world as both an artist, and human being. After graduating high school, Jewel managed to survive the city of San Diego on her own – until her boss at a computer warehouse fired her when she refused to sleep with him. Losing her job led Jewel to an eviction. While homeless, however, Jewel did not give up and continued to both write and perform her songs at local coffee houses. Eventually, her perseverance allowed her to debut Pieces of You, an album that went on to go platinum 11 times over.
It’s hard to complain if you have a hit syndicated daytime talk show, a few best sellers, a happy marriage, multiple luxurious homes, and many other status objects that so many people aspire towards. But Steve Harvey wasn’t always “living the life”. The late ‘80s were some of Harvey’s darkest. After a bad marriage and an even worse divorce, Harvey found himself homeless; sleeping in hotels or even in this beat up Ford Tempo. He puts it best, though – “I had nowhere to go. A week is really the maximum one can do. This was three years! It was rock bottom. But even in my darkest days I had faith it would turn around.” – and his resume would certainly support that claim to its fullest.