|Marshall Bruce Mathers III was born on October 17, 1972 in Kansas City. His mother, Deborah Mathers-Briggs, was married at 15 and less than three years later, almost died delivering her first son at the end of a 73-hour labor. "I went through a living hell," Debbie has said, recalling the doctor who charged $90 for prenatal visits, delivery and circumcision.
Eminem's mother and his father, Marshall Mathers Jr, were both in a covers band called the Daddy Warbucks. Shortly after Eminem was born, the family relocated to North Dakota where his dad was supposed to take a job as a hotel manager. In 1973, Debbie took Eminem and moved to St. Joseph to live with her Aunt Edna. According to Eminem's father, he came home one day to find that his wife and son were gone. Two years later, Debbie filed for a divorce and the agreement left him with no visitation rights. Eminem never saw his father again.
Eminem spent most of his early childhood moving back and forth between Kansas City and the metropolitan Detroit area. Because he was constantly changing schools, Eminem found it difficult to make friends and he was often an easy target for bullies. While Eminem was attending Dort Elementary school in 1982, a bully named D'angelo Bailey put a severe beating on the 8-year-old boy. The incident occured in the school washroom where Eminem was found in a pool of blood and rushed to the hospital.
On a separate occasion in 1983, after throwing a snowball at Eminem's head, the same bully pushed him into a snowbank and beat him up. As a result of the attack, Eminem suffered from a cerebral concussion. He almost lost his eyesight and his hearing and there was even a possibility that he might have died. It took a year for him to bounce back but luckily he made it.
In 1986, Debbie Mathers gave birth to another baby boy named Nathan. His father left Debbie and she successfully sued him for child support. Though he was only 13 at the time, Eminem played a big part in helping Debbie raise Nate. A year later, the family settled in Warren. "I don't think I've seen segregation as bad as this, out of all the places I've lived," he says of Detroit. "I've lived in the white neighborhoods, I've lived in the black neighborhoods, I've fucking seen it all, and I know I would not be able to rap the way I rap if it wasn't for living here."
As a young teen, Eminem loved comic books and dreamt of being a cartoonist. In 1987, however, his Uncle Ronnie introduced him to rap music. After hearing the Ice-T song "Reckless," Eminem decided to be a rap artist. He wrote his first rap song to LL Cool J's "I'm Bad" at age 14. That year, he began attending Lincoln High school. Other students recall that he didn't stand out much except for an excellent rap performance at the school's annual talent show.
It was around this time that Eminem met his first girlfriend Kimberley Anne Scott. The two met through mutual friends. "She came by, and I remember I was jumping all around the furniture while lipsynching L.L. Cool J songs," Eminem recalls. The two quickly became inseperable. "Detroit is really segregated and to get to Kim's part of town, I would have to walk through all-black neighborhoods. I would always get my ass beat; I even got shot at once. But Kim would usually meet me halfway. Or sometimes we would walk down the railroad tracks- nobody would fuck with us there," Eminem recalls.
According to Eminem's grandmother, Betty Kresin, Deborah took Kim in at age 12 after she was kicked out of her house. "They fought like brother and sister," Betty says of Eminem and Kim's early relationship. "But then all of a sudden it reversed and they became intimate."
Eminem made his first radio appearance at age 15 on the Detroit radio station WDRQ (93.1) At the time he was going by the stage name M&M. DJ Lisa Orlando says, "We basically let 'em call, and they'd rap for us on the phone. If I thought they had some talent, we'd bring 'em down and put them in the production room. It was all live on the radio. You'd point to the kid, and this street kid would have to just start doin' his thing." Eminem made the cut and him and his crew became regulars on Open Mic Night.
"He was different," says Orlando, "but he was shy. He was a little more timid when he was doing the show. At the time, he wasn't the one that I thought would make it. But he'd come down, and his raps would always be funny. The other guys would all talk about some girl or getting into fights, your typical gangsta rap stuff. And he'd come in talkin' junk- he was unique." During one of his radio appearances, Eminem was discovered by local producers Marky and Jeff Bass. After meeting with Eminem, they signed him to their independent label Web Entertainment.
That year, Eminem faced another encounter that could have cost him his life. While walking through the neighborhood one day, a car full of guys gave Eminem the finger. He returned the gesture and didn't think much of it until he turned the corner and saw them waiting for him. They stripped him down to his boxers and pointed a gun at him. Luckily, a truck driver pulled over, pulled out a gun of his own and scared off the attackers.
In 1989, after failing grade nine for the third time, Eminem dropped out of high school to pursue his career as a rapper.
Comment on this article?