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Nicki, Selena & More: 15 Celebs Who Found Fortune After Growing Up Broke

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Mar. 21 2018, Published 4:58 p.m. ET

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Several celebrities come from humble upbringings, where money was a vital issue for them in a much different way compared to how it is for them now.  Nicki Minaj, Sarah Jessica Parker and many others took their tough situations and turned them into major successes that led them all the way to the bank and more.  Here are fifteen stars who went from rags to riches.

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She has become one of the most celebrated women in country music since the new millennium, but Miranda Lambert’s upbringing was far less stellar than the life she is living now.  Her parents lost their private investigator business in the mid-80’s, causing the “Kerosene” singer and her brother to grow up poor.   Their family lost two houses, two cars and a ton of money overnight.  Miranda’s tenacity, however, to become a country superstar, paid off, as years later she became a finalist on the show Nashville Star.  Even though she didn’t win the overall competition, she went on to conquer the country world and score several Grammy, ACM’s and several other awards in the process.  Estimated net worth?  $45 million dollars.   

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Nicki Minaj, who has developed herself into one of the most profitable female emcees of all time, started out life with her outlook looking pretty differently as she went through a very rough childhood when her family moved from Trinidad to Queens, New York.  Her father had a major addiction to alcohol and drugs, and even burned down their home back in December of 1987.  After working minimum wage jobs such as being a cashier at a local Red Lobster, Nicki was able to eventually make her way into the hip-hop industry and become one of the biggest rappers of the 2010’s.  “I never want to go back to being poor,” she said to NME back in 2012. “Once you have a taste of that you will always be driven. Her estimated net worth is now valued at $70 million dollars. 

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With an estimated net worth of $360 million dollars, that’s right, $360 million dollars, Jennifer Lopez has definitely found incredible fortune after a not so easy life growing up in the Bronx.  Her father worked nights and her mother took on the role as Tupperware lady to provide for Jennifer and her sister Lynda when they were growing up.  She also revealed that at one point she was homeless and would sleep at the dance studio when she was just 18 years old as she was longing for a career in show business much to her parents disapproval.  Years later, she became a fly girl on the hit show In Living Color, appeared as a dancer in Janet Jackson’s “That’s The Way Love Goes” and then scored an iconic, life-changing role in Selena.  And the rest… is history. 

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She may have been dropping hundreds of dollars on Manolo Blahnik’s as Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City, however Sarah Jessica Parker couldn’t have even dreamt of spending anywhere near close to that as she was one of eight children who grew up on welfare in her hometown of Nelsonville, Ohio.  "I knew I was different from the kids who pay for lunch or bring their lunch from home. It was a stigma thing. I was not the only person receiving a free lunch, but you are aware," she once told The New York Times. Now, things have done a complete 180 for the Divorce star, who has amassed a huge net worth of $90 million after 30 plus years in the industry. 

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Sean Combs, who has been one of the biggest media moguls in the world for the past 20 years, had it extremely rough growing up as his father, Melvin Combs, was shot to death when he was a young child.  Not only that, but he took on jobs like being a paper boy in his neighborhood of Harlem when his mother Janice couldn’t afford to buy him shoes.  Later on in life, he got his business game together when he developed Bad Boy Records in 1993, which birthed his career as well as many others including The Notorious B.I.G. He also has his hands in several successful business ventures, which has lead to him with an insane net worth of $820 million dollars! Looks like he won’t need that paper route anymore. 

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Country legend Shania Twain’s private life was kept mum for several years, until she finally opened up about her tragic childhood in an interview with Nightline back in 2011.  She spoke about the physical abuse she and her mother endured at the hands of her stepfather, as the two of them constantly battled over lack of finances to feed their five children.  Even worse, both her parents were killed in a car accident back in 1987, leaving her to raise her three young siblings in the process.  She was able to channel that pain throughout the years and turn it success on the charts, selling millions of records and recently made a major comeback after fifteen years out of the industry.  Her estimated net worth now?  A cool $370 million dollars. 

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Rap icon Jay-Z has solidified his status as one of hip-hop’s most iconic legends, but it wasn’t so easy for him to get to this place in life as he grew up in a Brooklyn public housing project and even admitted to Vanity Fair that he would sell drugs in order to have some money.  Those days are firmly behind him, as he has built an empire, both in and out of music, that is nothing short of extraordinary.  And he’s married to one of the biggest stars in the world as well, Beyonce, who share a net worth of $1.16 billion dollars.  Yep: billion. 

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Mila Kunis admitted in an interview that she ate ketchup soup as a kid, as her family was that broke when they relocated to the United States from the USSR.  She started acting at a very young age, which eventually became quite profitable for her with roles on That 70’s Show and Family Guy, the latter of which she still stars on.  She won’t have to endure ketchup soup anymore by the looks of it, as her estimated net worth is now valued at $45 million dollars. 

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Before becoming a major supermodel and actress, Camila Alves spent four years of her life working as a waitress and house cleaner when she made the move to the United States by way of Brazil.  That hard work paid off for her, as her estimated net worth is now valued at $6 million dollars. 

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Hunky actor Mark Wahlberg’s life growing up in Dorchester, Massachusetts was extremely rough for him, as he and his 8 siblings lived in a 3-bedroom apartment with his mother and father. After a string of run-in’s with the law during his teen years, he got himself on the straight and narrow by developing a major music career before becoming one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood.  With his past firmly behind him, Mark can now enjoy nothing but success for himself as his estimated net worth is valued at $225 million dollars. 

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Things weren’t always easy for Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry.  The Monster’s Ball actor was raised poor by a single parent (she claims her father was extremely abusive towards her mother and has been estranged from him since childhood) in Cleveland, Ohio and was living in a homeless shelter in New York City prior to making it big in the entertainment industry.  She got a small part in the short-lived series Living Dolls, which eventually catapulted her to superstardom with roles in the X-Men franchises and her Emmy and Golden Globe winning role in Introducing Dorothy Dandridge. She clearly took her pain and turned it into major profit, as she’s now has an estimated net worth of $80 million dollars. 

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Time Magazine once reported that Jim Carrey was homeless when he was 12 years old when his father lost his job.  He was forced to live in a van prior to establishing an incredible comedy career, a time in which he called "“a traumatic kick in the guts.”  Years later, he became box office gold with films like The Mask and the Ace Ventura series, that helped him establish an incredible estimated net worth of $150 million dollars. 

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Kelly Clarkson’s song “Piece by Piece” is quite possibly her most emotional song ever as it rings true to her life growing up in Texas.  Her father left her at a young age, forcing her siblings to be split up in the process and scattered amongst family members.  Throughout all the pain she experienced, Kelly persevered and wound up auditioning for a little show called American Idol back in 2002.  She eventually went on to win, and was able to enjoy a massively successful music career shortly thereafter.  Estimated net worth?  

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Demi Moore’s life growing up was quite hectic, as her biological father left before she was born and her stepfather frequently changed jobs which caused them to move around quite a lot.  She also dropped out of high school to follow her passion of pursuing an acting career, one of which took a couple of years before finally taking off.  She then became one of the biggest stars of her generation, starring in iconic movies like St. Elmo’s Fire and About Last Night while becoming a major sex symbol in the process.  Dropping out of high school paid off for her in the end, as she now has an estimated net worth of $150 million dollars. 

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*EXCLUSIVE* Selena Gomez arrives at Sydney Airport carrying her Ukulele Guitar!
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Pop princess Selena Gomez’s upbringing was very tough, as her mother Mandy Teefey was a teen mom (she had her at 16) and had to work several jobs just to put food on the table for them.  It got so bad that they would search for quarters just to buy gas for their car. Then, at the age of 10 years old, Selena was chosen to star on the children’s series Barney and securing major roles in television and movies as the years went on.  Now, she’s a global superstar, with a red hot recording career that has spawned several singles including “Wolves” and “The Heart Wants What it Wants”.  Looks like she’ll never have to look for quarters again, as her estimated net worth is now valued at $50 million dollars. 

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Which "rags to riches" story was most inspiring to you?  Sound off in the comments!

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