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9 inspiring people who overcame childhood adversity

Published: Sunday, Aug. 3 2014 9:25 a.m. MDT

Adverse childhood experiences affect nearly half of American children. But some, like those on this list of celebrities, find a way to overcome the problems.

John Minchillo, AP

Adverse childhood experiences aren’t a rarity in the United States.

In fact, almost half of American children — 46 percent — have experienced an adverse situation in their childhood, according to a Child Trends report.

But these experiences — which are defined as things like witnessing a parent's divorce, living with someone who has a drug or alcohol problem, or struggling with the economy, according to the report — aren't always a limiter of success. In some cases, people have risen above their adverse circumstances and achieved positive stability.

See also: Nearly half of children experience trauma, but only some overcome it

Here are 9 celebrities who have overcome the pain of their past:

Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd is a popular Hollywood actress who has been nominated for the Golden Globe awards in the past, but she comes from a troubled background, according to ABC News. She was abused by many men in her life, including a family member, ABC News reported. She had to rely on the strength of her mom to help her make it in the big time.

"When you are trying to make it in show business, everything else falls by the wayside,” said Amy Palmer, a magazine editor who wrote about Judd’s recent memoir “All That Is Better and Sweet.” “She was left alone so much with her mother and sister touring the country to make it. Something suffers and it was Ashley's childhood."

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Shia LaBeouf

Shia LaBeouf wasn’t always the Hollywood hunk that he is now. The Telegraph ran a feature piece on his life story, highlighting how the eventual “Transformers” actor grew up in a poverty-stricken environment where he and his family traveled and sold hot dogs to make ends meet.

“After his parents divorced, LeBeouf later ended up accompanying his Dad to AA meetings, while trying to make it as a child actor, performing stand-up at local comedy clubs from the age of 10,” The Telegraph reported.

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Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry may have a slew of movies sliding into movie theaters every year, but it wasn’t always that way. He suffered abuse as a child, both physical and sexual, and “he never felt safe,” according to oprah.com. But his rise into stardom started with a simple concept — he would think of his family.

"I could go to this park (in my mind) that my mother and my aunt had taken me to. ... I'm there in this park running and playing, and it was such a good day," Perry said to oprah.com. "So, every time somebody was doing something to me that was horrible, that was awful, I could go to this park in my mind until it was over."

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Oprah Winfrey

But Oprah didn’t just offer an in-depth look into Perry’s life. She herself has suffered from a traumatic childhood. In an interview with David Letterman, Winfrey spoke about how she was both physically and sexually abused as a kid and that she needed to turn to a “power greater than herself” to persevere and make it through, Daily Mail reported.

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Albert Einstein

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