The Heartbreaking Life of Eminem

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The Heartbreaking Life of Eminem

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Richard Bush
Eminem has achieved incredible success as one of the greatest rappers of all time, but his life has been filled with tragedy and hardship. From his troubled childhood to his struggles with addiction, we are exploring the heartbreaking life of this renowned rapper.
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The Heartbreaking Life of Eminem


Whether you know him as Eminem, Marshall Mathers, Slim Shady or just the guy in the hockey mask, there’s no denying the astronomical impact he’s had on the world of music. From world famous diss-tracks to Oscar-winning movie tunes, Eminem has truly transformed the world of rap, being renowned for his intelligent word play, anti-establishment views and of course a whole lot of court case controversy. But the traumatising topics he raps about aren’t just for show. He’s had a tough upbringing that saw him hit pretty much every speed bump on his way to fame and fortune. Welcome to WatchMojo and in this video, we take a look at the heartbreaking life of Eminem.



Born Marshall Bruce Mathers III in St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1972, Marshall was named after his father, who abandoned him and his mother Debbie. Marshall attempted to contact his father several times when he was a teenager by writing letters to him, but to no avail. Struggling for work, Debbie moved Marshall around the country frequently, resulting in his education being jeopardized as he reportedly relocated and changed schools as often as every two to three months. This lifestyle led to Marshall struggling to make friends - and reportedly being labelled as mentally challenged by his teachers. This added to the already tough situation of fitting in whilst being white in predominantly black neighbourhoods and schools.




But friends and family say that Marshall got used to being a recluse, closing himself up in his room and immersing himself in the world of comic books. Marshall was bullied in school however, notably by a boy called DeAngelo Bailey, who attacked him in a school bathroom, resulting in him being in a coma for 10 days. After eventually waking up, he had to re-learn many of his motor skills. Despite this very real trauma, his mother Debbie is also said to have been guilty of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, convincing her children they were ill, when they really weren’t.




Although he and his mother moved around a lot, Marshall spent most of his childhood in Detroit. And he finally found solace in a friendship with his mother’s half brother Ronnie Polkingharn, and the two quickly became close. And although Ronnie was only two months older than Marshall, he became a mentor to him, introducing him to the world of rap music with the track “Reckless” from the Breakin' soundtrack. Later on in life, Ronnie would take his own life, leaving Marshall traumatised and speechless for days - incapable of bringing himself to attend his funeral. With somewhat of a revolving door of an education, Marshall spent three years in ninth grade, and eventually dropped out of high school when he was 17.


Although Marshall dropped out of school, he always had a love for English. That and his love for rap music, led him to attend open mic rap battles and try out his material - and it was around this time that he played around with rap names, going by names like “MC Double M” and “M&M”, like the candy. Eventually he changed it to the “Eminem” monicker we know today. Although Marshall immersed himself in the underground rap scene, he constantly faced adversity, due to him being white. He collaborated with many different local rappers, including his friend Proof, but he still struggled to get people to take him seriously. After meeting his future wife Kim in the late ‘80s, and having his daughter Hailie in the mid ‘90s, he attempted to make a breakthrough, with his very first record, “Infinite”. Unfortunately for Marshall, it was a commercial flop - leading to one of the lowest points in his personal life.




Struggling to provide for his family, Marshall would work 60 hour weeks at the Gilbert's Lodge family restaurant. But after being fired from Gilbert’s, and with the disappointment of his “Infinite” record, Marshall attempted suicide. By 1997, Marshall was living with his mother Debbie - and Kim and Hailie, in his mother’s trailer. In mid 1997, Marshall decided to change tact. He decided to make his writing more controversial and more hard-hitting. And he created the alter ego Slim Shady to go with his new style, giving him a platform to create chaos on the airwaves. What followed was the “Slim Shady EP”. And after the EP fell into the hands of Dr. Dre, Eminem aka Slim Shady, received almost overnight success with Dr. Dre backing him.




Since Marshall shot to superstardom in the rap world, there have been many ups and downs for him, musically and critically. But it’s the details of his personal life - specifically in a courtroom - that have garnered plenty of media attention. First of all, Marshall and Kim have been married and divorced twice with their relationship famously being on-off constantly. Due to his upbringing, Marshall’s relationship with his mother has also been somewhat of a rollercoaster. In fact, his mother Debbie sued him for $10 million for slander as a result of the “Slim Shady LP”. And that’s not the only time Marshall has been sued - far from it. He’s been taken to court multiple times for track sampling copyright claims and numerous defamations of character. He was even sued for defamation on a diss-track he did by the kid who put him in a coma when he was younger. There were even talks of the secret service investigating him due to a controversial line in the song “We As Americans".




Outside the courtroom, Marshall was fighting his own demons. During the filming of his semi-autobiographical movie “8 Mile”, Marshall struggled with insomnia due to long filming hours and became addicted to prescription drugs to help him sleep. He spiralled out of control, with the rapper stating that he lost years of memory due to his addiction. Ater overdosing on what doctors said was equivalent to four bags of heroin and relapsing several times, Marshall eventually took to exercising as an alternative to his addiction. And famously, singer Elton John became a mentor for him, regularly calling him to check up on his sobriety.




Marshall Mathers’ success in the music industry is undeniable. And his creative, hilarious and highly-controversial lyrics have changed the way we look at rap. Although his talent is amazing, what’s arguably more amazing is his determination to fight against the odds in order to succeed. And that, is the heartbreaking life of Eminem.

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