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12 Messed Up Facts About Eminem's Troubled Upbringing

Updated June 14, 2019 2.0m views12 items

Marshall Mathers, known by stage names such as Eminem and Slim Shady, has an admittedly troubled past. His father abandoned his family, his mother was reportedly addicted to drugs and alcohol, and he endured considerable abuse in his early life. All these hardships fired the furnace that resulted in the best Eminem songs and albums. 

Most of Eminem's early life was spent in a trailer park, where he rapped by himself or with his uncle Ronnie. Etched in loving memory as one of Eminem's tattoos, Uncle Ronnie was an influential figure in Mathers's life, providing one of the only stable relationships in the rapper's childhood. Ronnie committed suicide in 1991, delivering a devastating blow to the young Eminem. 

Marshall Mathers's life only became more complicated as he grew older. He started dating his on-again-off-again wife Kim in high school. They've been married and divorced twice, with multiple children (one biological and two adopted).

Glimpses of Eminem's childhood can be seen through his lyrics, interviews, and 8 Mile, the full-length feature film based on his early life. Read on to discover the darkest parts of Eminem's origins. 

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  • Eminem's Mother Left Him When He Was Little, But Came Back To Raise Him

    Photo: DoD News Features / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

    Even though Debbie Mathers accused her husband of abandoning their son, she herself reportedly often left Marshall in the care of his Great-Aunt Edna and Uncle Charles. They let him do chores and took him to school; Mathers later said, "They were my solidity."

  • Eminem's Mother Made Money By Concocting Lawsuits

    Eminem's lyrics suggest that his mother never held a job for long, and she reportedly may have instead made money by concocting lawsuits. For example, she allegedly once sued her son's school.

    In 1999, Debbie Mathers went so far as to sue her son on counts of defamation, requesting that the rapper pay her $10 million for claiming that she was a drug addict. The courts ultimately sided with Mathers, and in her 2008 memoir, My Son Marshall, My Son Eminem, she claimed that her lawyer filed the suit without her permission.

  • After Failing 9th Grade Three Times, Eminem Dropped Out Of High School

    Photo: glenjamn / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    The real Slim Shady failed the 9th grade three times. Mathers claims his mother pushed him to get a job at the age of 15, but his mother argues that Em was well provided for. Regardless, Eminem dropped out of high school at the age of 17.

    Despite not having completed high school, Mathers has always loved English. He once told Rolling Stone, "I suck at math. I’m terrible at social studies. But I’ve always been good at English, and I always had a lot of words in my vocabulary." 

  • Em's Mom Almost Died In Childbirth

    Photo: Philms / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, Eminem was a hard baby to birth. At the age of 15, Debbie Mathers spent 73 hours in labor before successfully birthing her first child; however, she almost died from the event, which she described as a "living Hell." She claimed the doctor smoked cigars while helping her through the process.