In order to get to where they are today, some people really had to beat the odds.
These people weren’t just poor — they were homeless.
They eventually turned their lives around and became an inspiration to anyone who dreams of a professional career despite starting from nothing.
Here are 15 inspiring stories of people who at some point in their lives had nowhere else to sleep but on the streets.
Oscar winner Halle Berry once stayed in a homeless shelter in her early twenties.
When she first moved to Chicago to become an actress, Berry ran out of money and her mother decided the best thing would not be to send her daughter money.
During these struggling times, the actress admits to staying in a homeless shelter.
In an interview with Star Pulse, the actress said:
“It taught me how to take care of myself and that I could live through any situation, even if it meant going to a shelter for a small stint, or living within my means, which were meager. I became a person who knows that I will always make my own way.”
Chris Gardner inspired the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” and was homeless with a young son while he was in a finance training program.
Aside from a movie based on his life starring Will Smith, Gardner also has two New York Times bestselling books under his belt: his autobiography “The Pursuit of Happyness” and “Start Where You Are: Life Lessons in Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.”
But before his story was shared with the world, Gardner was living on the streets with his young son. At the time, he was trying to pursue a career in finance despite not having any experience in it, or even a college degree. He received a spot on the Dean Witter Reynolds training program, but couldn’t afford to live off of the small salary, and his wife eventually left.
He is also a motivational speaker and CEO of Gardner Rich LLC with offices in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.
According to his Web site, Gardner’s childhood was “marked by poverty, domestic violence, alcoholism, sexual abuse and family illiteracy.”
Hilary Swank grew up in a trailer park and lived in a car with her mother as a teenager.
Before she became an Oscar winner, Swank was a high school drop out and struggling actress.
When she was 15 years old, Swank and her mother left their home in Bellingham, Wash. and headed to California with “$75 and a Mobil card,” reported Rebecca Leung at CBSNews.com.
After their arrival, the pair lived in a car for a couple of weeks.
Fortunately, Swank landed a role in her early twenties as Tina Brandon in the film “Boys Don’t Cry” — a role for which she was paid $3,000 in total — which would eventually earn her an Academy Award for Best Actress.
The co-founder of Canada’s largest specialty chain of coffee shops was once homeless because of a drinking problem.
While he was in his early 20s, Frank O’Dea was panhandling and living on the streets, according to John Demont at The Chronicle Herald.
That was, until he and his business partner opened Second Cup, which is the largest specialty coffee chain in Canada today with 360 locations.
Personal finance guru Suze Orman is now worth approximately $25 million, but she lived out of her van for four months in 1973.
Action film director John Woo lived on the streets of Hong Kong with his family as a young child.
Before Woo experienced success as an acclaimed film director for movies, such as “Mission Impossible 2,” “Broken Arrow,” and “Windtalkers,” he was homeless with his family at a young age in Hong Kong.
In 1953, a major fire destroyed his family’s home along with 50,000 other residents in the area and the Woos lived on the streets for the next year, according to his biography in HKfilm.com.
Jim Carrey once lived out of a VW camper van and in a tent on his sister’s front lawn.
Carrey said it was during these tough financial times growing up when he developed a sense of humor.
Yahoo! reported that the comedian dropped out of high school and lived in a VW bus with his family parked in different places throughout Canada. They eventually moved into a tent on his older sister’s lawn and parked the van in the driveway.
After being fired, Jewel was homeless for about a month and almost died in a parking lot.
Before becoming the multi-platinum singer Jewel, she lived on the streets after losing her job. In an interview with Adam on Showbizspy, the singer said:
“I ended up homeless because my boss propositioned me and when I wouldn’t sleep with him he didn’t give me my paycheck,” she said.
“I got kicked out of where I was living and my rent was due that next day.
“I thought ‘Well, I’ll live in my car for a minute… get back on my feet,’ but I had bad kidneys and I never could hold down another job because I got sick so often. I didn’t have insurance and ended up almost dying in the parking lot of an emergency room because they wouldn’t admit me because I didn’t have insurance.
“I ended up homeless for about a month and I went back to singing.”
Daniel Craig, or “James Bond,” once had to sleep on park benches in London.
He’s now got several critically-acclaimed movies on his resume, but Hollyscoop reported that the “007” actor used to sleep on park benches as a struggling actor.
Singer Ella Fitzgerald was abused, had mafia ties and was homeless before becoming the ‘Queen of Jazz.’
She would go on to sing for President Ronald Reagan in 1981, but before becoming “arguably the finest female jazz singer of all time,” Fitzgerald was abused by her stepfather when her mother died at a young age, according to PoemHunter.com.
She worked with the mafia for some time before the police put her in a school for girls.
Fitzgerald ran away from there and was homeless until debuting at the Apollo Theater in 1934. Her voice quickly won her fame and throughout her career, she won 13 Grammy Awards and received medals from both President Reagan and George H. W. Bush.
She died in 1996, but her face appeared on a United States postal stamp in 2007.
Michael Oher’s story of homelessness and struggle in ‘The Blind Side’ was inspirational to the world.
During his childhood and teenaged years, Oher was living on the streets while his crack-addicted mother lived in public housing, reported NPR.
He was eventually taken in to live with a wealthy family, played college football at the University of Mississippi and drafted into the NFL in 2009 for the Baltimore Ravens.
His inspirational story was turned into Michael Lewis’s 2006 book “The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game” and the movie “The Blind Side.”
Kelly Clarkson lived in a car and homeless shelter when her apartment burned down.
Carmen Electra became homeless in her early twenties when all her savings were stolen by an ex-boyfriend.
After her gig ended as one of Prince’s dancers, Electra’s boyfriend stole her savings, which led to her being homeless for a few years in Hollywood, according to Doug Elfman at the Las Vegas Review Journal.
Electra told Elfman:
“I remember sitting on a park bench in the valley. I was crying because I was stranded. It was over 100 degrees outside.
“I was sitting there with a pocketknife and a pager and some change in my pocket, and a really nice pair of high heels. Versace heels, because I had a few pieces of my amazing clothes I’d gotten along the way.
“I remember crying and watching cars drive by and thinking, ‘I would do anything just to be able to get from here to there — to get down the block!’ I was, like, ‘I can’t walk anymore.’ ”
Before becoming the greatest magician, Harry Houdini ran away from home at the age of 12 and begged on the streets for coins.
At a young age, Houdini knew he wanted to be a magician and ran away from home by hopping a freight car, according to Appleton Public Library.
He ended up in Missouri.
A few years later, he moved to New York City with his father, but they were so poor Houdini continued to panhandle on the streets.
He began his professional career at 17.
Before the age of 10, Charlie Chaplin had to figure out how to make a living on the streets of London.
After the early death of his father, Chaplin’s mother was put in a mental hospital and the young boy and his brother had to try to make a living by themselves, according to his Web site.
As both his parents were in show business, Chaplin and his brother decided to follow suit. Today, he’s known as one of the greatest actors during the silent film era.