Rapper Eminem, a.k.a. Marshall Mathers III, has led a super-interesting life. And his fans can’t get enough of it, either: they’re fascinated by his addictions and crises, his chaotic relationship with his ex-wife Kim and his sweetness to his daughter Hailie. Still, while there are many things about the controversial rapper that are very well-publicized, there are still a few Slim Shady facts that have flown under the radar.
20. He used to pop up to 90 pills a day
From the early to mid ’00s, Eminem was completely hooked on pills. He took Valium, Vicodin, Seroquel and Ambien, and his constant use of these drugs almost killed him. In fact, at one point he was rushed to hospital and almost died after taking a potentially lethal cocktail of pills. But luckily for his fans, he pulled through.
19. He claims to have only ever read a single book
In 2010 Eminem told Rolling Stone that he had only ever read one book all the way through: LL Cool J’s autobiography, I Make My Own Rules. “I just never really got into books,” he said. But apparently, the rap star does browse the dictionary occasionally.
18. He was sued by his own mom
It’s well known that Eminem and his mother have a troubled relationship, but it’s less well known that in 1999 she actually sued him. Debbie Mathers-Briggs alleged that her son’s less-than-complimentary lyrics about her were slander – and whether they were or not, they certainly aren’t nice. In the end, however, she was awarded a mere $1,600.
17. He came up with the name Slim Shady while on the John
Slim Shady is Eminem’s alter ego – and a vicious and nasty alter ego at that, as Eminem himself would probably be the first to admit. But Slim Shady’s origin story is actually more funny than anything else; Eminem actually got the idea for the character when he was sitting on the toilet.
16. He was once investigated by the Secret Service
In 2003 a leaked Eminem song included the lyric “I’d rather see the president dead.” And because threatening the president is a felony, the Secret Service had to get involved. In the end, of course, they found no evidence to suggest that the rapper was actually out to get George W. Bush, though.
15. Matt Damon’s role in Elysium could have been his
When Neill Blomkamp was preparing to make his sci-fi movie Elysium, he had Eminem in mind for the potential lead. And Eminem did actually consider it… but ultimately said no when Blomkamp wouldn’t move the filming location to Detroit. In the end, as we now know, however, Matt Damon was cast as the lead instead.
14. He used his daughter’s voice in a track about killing her mom
When Eminem was at the lowest point with his ex-wife Kim, he picked up their daughter Hailie one day and claimed he was taking her to Chuck E. Cheese. But instead, he brought the little girl to his studio and recorded her voice – then used it in an incredibly violent track about murdering Kim. Yikes.
13. Elton John helped him get clean
When Eminem’s drug addiction was eating his life away, he found help in an unlikely ally: Elton John. The famous singer had himself previously battled addiction, and gradually the two of them became friends. In fact, in a 2010 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, John even took to Eminem’s defense against accusations of homophobia.
12. His mother almost died while giving birth to him
Eminem may not get along with his mother, but he almost didn’t have one at all. Debbie Mathers-Briggs gave birth to her son while she was still a teenager and, moreover, suffered through a 73-hour labor which came very close to killing her.
11. His house is a no-swear zone
Eminem’s song lyrics are some of the filthiest and crudest in the business. And yet, surprisingly, he doesn’t tolerate swearing in his house. In fact, in 2010 he told Anderson Cooper that he tries to be a profanity-free parent to his daughters.
10. A long-lost sister emerged in 2005
Eminem’s father, Marshall Mathers II, abandoned the family not long after Eminem was born. But then he started another family – and in 2005 his daughter Sarah Mathers was shocked to find out that Eminem, whom she had only ever seen on TV, was actually her half-brother.
9. His school bully filed a $1 million lawsuit against him
In “Brain Damage,” Eminem raps about a bully called DeAngelo Bailey who used to violently attack him. And it turns out that Bailey had indeed bullied the young Mathers – so much so, in fact, that his mom had sued his school over it. Indeed, in a 1999 Rolling Stone interview, Bailey even said he used to do “bully-type things” to the star. And so, unsurprisingly, his 2001 lawsuit against Eminem didn’t come to much.
8. Kim has said he nearly drove her to suicide
Eminem’s cutting lyrics about his ex Kim, as well as his violent onstage behavior towards her, did actually have what was presumably the intended effect. Because in 2007 she told Dr. Keith Ablow that seeing Eminem beating up a blow-up doll of her prompted her to try to take her own life.
7. He has two adopted daughters
It’s well known that Eminem has one biological daughter, Hailie, but did you know that he actually has two adopted daughters as well? These are Alaina Marie Mathers, Kim’s daughter by another man, and Whitney Laine Scott, the daughter of Kim’s twin sister, Dawn Scott. And in case you’re wondering, Eminem is reported to be really good to all three.
6. His mother claims he is mentally ill
In her book, My Son Marshall, My Son Eminem, Eminem’s mother told the world that her son has bipolar disorder which worsened after Hailie was born. Meanwhile, in his own lyrics on the track “Monster,” Eminem also refers to his OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder).
5. His music once helped bring a child out of a coma
In general, Eminem is not considered suitable for children… but he was good for one particular child. In 2001 a 12-year-old girl named Dione Armstrong was rushed to hospital after a car accident and put on life support. She survived, however, and her mother claimed that listening to Eminem’s music helped her fight for her life.
4. He has a complicated relationship with Mariah Carey
No one really knows for certain what went on between Eminem and Mariah Carey, but there’s absolutely a lot of bad blood between them. The pair allegedly dated briefly in 2001, and although Mariah has denied the relationship, Eminem has not. Plus, he’s mentioned her often in his songs – in typically colorful fashion.
3. Two of his uncles have killed themselves
Eminem’s uncle Ronnie – the person who introduced him to rap music – killed himself in 1991, devastating the young Marshall Mathers. And in 2004, he lost another family member to suicide when his uncle and father figure Todd Nelson shot himself.
2. His estranged sister-in-law was found dead from an overdose
Dawn Scott, the mother of Eminem’s adopted daughter Alaina, was found dead in a trailer park in January 2016. The cause of death was reportedly a drug overdose. And previously, Scott had complained that her millionaire brother-in-law refused to give her cash to help her off the streets.
1. He’s been arrested for assault
Eminem has been arrested a few times, but arguably the most serious misdemeanor came in 2000 when he assaulted a bouncer called John Guerrera after he saw him locking lips with Kim. Eminem received two years’ probation and went on to reference the incident in “Sing for the Moment.”