Most of us have been through our fair share of ups and downs in our lives, and that goes for celebrities, too. Behind the glitz and glam of their everyday lives, many of them have stories of hurt, pain, and great loss. That's why my favorite saying is, "Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be Kind. Always."
Here are 11 celebrities who have survived tragic events.
1. . Monica
A few years after Monica catapulted into the public eye as a powerhouse of vocals as a young teen, she disappeared for years before re-emerging. Monica later revealed that she had spent that time being in love with and unfortunately, witnessing the suicide of her ex-boyfriend, Jarvis Weems. In 2000, Monica had pleaded to Weems for an hour when he shot and killed himself by way of a gunshot wound to the head as she looked on. It was such a traumatic event (as you can imagine), that forced her to take off a significant of time from work in order to heal. She later returned with new music, a new look, and more grown and seasoned image in her reality show Still Standing on BET.
2. . Kanye West
While many people know Kanye West for being the loud and pretentious rapper that he is-- before the fame, there was the incident that catapulted the man. Oddly enough, it was a near-fatal car crash on October 23rd, 2002 that became the driving force of his groundbreaking debut album. That day, after many hours spent in a recording studio in California, Kanye fell asleep at the wheel. The collision left him with a shattered jaw, which became the face the world was introduced to when he had to have it wired shut for reconstructive surgery. Just two weeks after, he found himself in the studio, wired jaw and all, recording "Through The Wire." It became the foundation of his album about turning tragedy into blessings. But Kanye's tragic story wasn't over. His mother, Donda West, who was known as his inspiration and who he dedicated "Hey Mama" to on his sophmore album in 2005, tragically passed away in Hollywood during plastic surgery just five years later. Kanye described it as "losing an arm and a leg, and trying to walk through that" almost a year later. He continues to make music and talk/tweet candidly about her impact on his life and his passion.
3. . Jennifer Hudson
In 2008, Jennifer Hudson experienced the greatest heartbreak of her life. William Balfour, the ex-husband of her sister Julia, shot and murdered her mother, her brother, and her seven-year-old nephew. Four years later, she opened up about the tragedy on Oprah and explained how she was able to overcome the tragedy. "For the most part, it's not his fault," said Jennifer. "It's what he was taught, how he was brought up... You never had a chance," she said, directing her comments to her family's murderer. "Had you had the love my mother gave us, or the background, you know, that some have, then you would've stood a chance." That same month, she won two Grammy Awards and released her Billboard-topping sophmore album, I Remember Me.
4. . Charlize Theron
Charlize Theron opened up about her traumatic childhood experience to Diane Sawyer in an aired interview on ABC in 2004, just before winning an Oscar for her performance in Monster. While returning from school at the age of 15, she walked into her home where her alcoholic father began to threaten both her and her mother with a gun. She then watched her mother murder her father and wound her uncle in self defense. "You always think it happens to somebody else," she said in her interview, speaking of herself and her mother. "For her to say 'go, go make something of your life, go, go do something' — that was an extremely brave thing for her to do... Those are the sacrifices, you know, that I think you do for your children, and she always did that. She always put me first."
5. . 50 Cent
Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson hasn't always been the millionaire who defies the courts with his humorous arrogance. Back on April 24th of 2000, Jackson was attacked outside of his grandmother's former home in South Jamaica, Queens. The shooter used a 9mm gun to fire nine shots at close range. 50 Cent suffered wounds in his hand, arm, hip, legs, chest, and left cheek, which is now often mistaken as a dimple. 50 Cent's facial wound caused him to suffer a swollen tongue, the loss of a wisdom tooth and a slightly slurred voice. He spent over two weeks in the hospital recovering after the incident. In his autobiography, From Pieces to Weight: Once upon a Time in Southside Queens, he wrote: "After I got shot nine times at close range and didn't die, I started to think that I must have a purpose in life ... How much more damage could that shell have done? Give me an inch in this direction or that one, and I'm gone." He used a walker for six weeks, and didn't fully recover until five months later. Fast forward two years, Eminem would hear his independent album, Guess Who's Back? and sign him to Aftermath/Shady Records.
6. . Brandy
Singer, actress, and Broadway star Brandy Norwood met her night with terror when she became responsible for the death of 38-year-old wife and mother, Awatef Aboudihaj, follwing a car accident on the freeway. On December 30th, 2006, Aboudihaj reportedly struck the car in front of her by mistake, braking immediately. Brandy was heading home behind Aboudihaj, and the sudden brake caused Brandy to hit her vehicle from the back. Aboudihaj's car spun out of control and was hit again by an oncoming car. Norwood was never charged, as there was not enough evidence to prove vehicular manslaughter -- but she took years away from entertaining while recovering from the traumatic ordeal. "The whole experience did completely change my life, and I can say that I think I'm a better person from it," Brandy said in a 2009 interview in London. "You know, I still don't understand all of it and why all of it happened, but I definitely have a heart, and my heart goes out to everyone involved. I pray about it every single day, and that's all I can really say on the subject."
7. . Tracy Morgan
Two years ago on June 7th, 2014, Tracy Morgan survived a near-fatal car crash that took the life of his friend and long-time collaborator, James "Jimmy Mack" McNair. An hour or so after mindnight, he rode as a passenger in a Mercedes limo bus when he and six others were struck from behind by a Walmart tractor-trailer. The limo included Morgan, three other close friends and comedians, Morgan's assistant, and two employees from the limo company. The hit caused a chain reaction, creating a six-car pile up. Tracy fought for his life and underwent surgery on his leg the very next day, in addition to injuries including a broken leg and femur, broken nose, and several broken ribs. Morgan sued Walmart for negligence almost a month later, and the giant company ended up settling a year later after controversially placing partial blame on the victims' lack of seat belts, which was not a proven factor. Tracy Morgan made his first public reappearance a week shy of the anniversary of the accident on The Today Show. "I have my good days and my bad days, where I forgot things," said Morgan. 2016 undoubtedly marks the return of Morgan, his humor, and his irreplaceable presence in Hollywood.
8. . Venus and Serena Williams
In September 2003, Serena and Venus Williams' older sister and personal assistant, Yetunde Price was killed by a gunshot wound. Victim of a drive-by shooting in Compton, the hometown of the family, Price was shot in the head while sitting in the passenger seat of her boyfriend's car, who was reportedly the intended victim. Serena stood up to address her sister's murderer Robert Edward Maxfield in court in 2006, when he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. While the two were already well on their path to solidified success in the sport of tennis, Serena has since become known among the greatest athletes in the world.
9. . Travis Barker
Blink 182's famous tatted drummer Travis Barker experienced a horrific tragedy when he survived a fatal plane crash in 2008. With a lifelong fear of flying, he left South Carolina in a private plane. Headed for California, the plane began speeding down the runway for liftoff when a loud noise was heard. A tire had blown and lift-off was aborted, but it was too late for some. The plane swerved through the airport's fence, across a highway, and crashed into an embankment. "I opened a door, and my hands caught ﬁre. I ran to get out of the plane, but I fell through a wing. I immediately soaked up with jet fuel and caught ﬁre. And then I was ... running like hell. I was running for my family: I didn't care about anything except being with my dad, my sister, Shanna, my three kids," recalled the traumatized musician. Barker and good friend, Adam "DJ AM" Goldstein survived together -- with AM putting out the fire on his body. They were both in critical condition, and the only two survivors of the crash. Barker underwent 16 surgeries. His personal assistant Chris Baker, his bodyguard and close friend Che Still, and the two pilots died in the crash. Less than a year later, DJ AM died from an overdose. Although Barker developed PTSD following the ordeal, he vowed to change his life by dedicating more time to his personal health and family.
10. . Keanu Reeves
In 1998, Keanu Reeves fell in love with a woman named Jennifer Syme. She became pregnant with their child, but the baby was unfortunately birthed a stillborn eight months into the pregnancy. Adding misery to the pain, Syme tragically lost her life in a car accident 18 months later. Notably, Reeves had a difficult childhood as well. His father left his family when he was a toddler, and he watched his sister battle leukemia for over a decade before she passed away in 1993. "Grief changes shape, but it never ends. People have a misconception that you can deal with it and say, 'It's gone, and I'm better.' They're wrong," he told Parade magazine. "When the people you love are gone, you're alone."
11. . Demi Moore
Demi Moore survived a rather traumatic upbringing as well, having grown up with a bipolar alcoholic mother and an addict stepfather. The violence in the household escalated one day in 1980, when her stepfather committed suicide. Moore made the choice to ditch high school to see her Hollywood dreams come true at the age of 16, and it appears to have been the best decision of her life. The same year of her stepfather's death and her subsequent choice, she received her breakthrough opportunity: posing for Oui magazine.