Today, the greatest rapper of all time, Eminem, turns 44 years old… Marshall Mathers was born on October 17, 1972, in St. Joseph, Missouri. He is the only child of Marshall Bruce Mathers, Jr. (born June 30, 1951; known as Bruce) and Deborah Rae “Debbie” Nelson (born January 6, 1955). He is of English, German, Scottish, and Swiss descent.
Debbie was 14 when she met 18-year-old Bruce; at age 17, she nearly died during her 73-hour labor. Eminem’s parents were in a band called Daddy Warbucks, playing in Ramada Inns along the Dakotas-Montana border before their separation. Bruce left the family, moving to California and having two other children: Michael and Sarah (born c. 1982). Debbie later had a son, Nathan Kane Samara, born February 3, 1986 also known as Nate.
During his childhood Eminem and Debbie shuttled between Missouri and Michigan, rarely staying in one house for more than a year or two and living primarily with family members. In Missouri, they lived in several places, including Saint Joseph, Savannah, and Kansas City.
As a teenager, Eminem wrote letters to his father; according to Debbie, all came back marked “return to sender”. Friends and family remember Eminem as a happy child, but “a bit of a loner” who was often bullied. One bully, De’Angelo Bailey, severely injured Eminem in the head; Debbie Nelson filed a lawsuit against the school in 1982, which was dismissed the following year.
Eminem spent much of his youth in a lower-middle-class, primarily black Detroit neighborhood. He and Debbie were one of three white households on their block, and Eminem was beaten by black youths several times. As a child he was interested in storytelling, aspiring to be a comic-book artist before discovering hip hop. Eminem heard his first rap song (“Reckless”, featuring Ice-T) on the Breakin’ soundtrack, a gift from Debbie’s half-brother Ronnie Polkinghorn, who later became a music mentor to him. When Polkinghorn committed suicide in 1991, Eminem stopped speaking for days and did not attend his funeral.
This was a short biography of how Eminem’s childhood was. Now watch the video footage of his family wishing happy birthday to him: