The Tragic Real Life Story Of Will Smith

There probably isn’t a single person in the world that doesn’t know who Will Smith is. He’s one of the most famous actors alive. His name alone proves to be a massive box office draw, making hundreds of millions of dollars no matter how good the actual film is. Although, of course, a majority of his body of work has turned out to be excellent. Although, Will Smith’s life hasn’t always been great with the glamour of superstardom, of fame and fortune. His life was once much more tragic. And this is that story.

Domestic Violence


A lot of Will Smith’s story was detailed in his self-titled memoir, Will. In the book, Smith described the brutal temper of his father when he drank. He was a refrigeration engineer and Air Force veteran. Better known as Daddio, he was Will’s father, his hero, and his tormentor. According to Smith, himself, he said “Life many sons, I worshipped my father, but he also terrified me”. As early as nine years old, he watched his father punch his mother in the side of the head, so hard that she collapsed and spat out blood. The repressed emotions led to Will even considering killing his own father. When he was wheelchair-bound, suffering from cancer, Will had a flash of rage where he considered pushing him down the stairs. On this, he said, “As a child, I’d always told myself that I would one day avenge my mother… I paused at the top of the stairs. I could shove him down and easily get away with it… Thank God we’re judged by our actions and not our trauma-driven, inner outbursts.”

Failing His Mother


Watching his father strike his mother changed Will forever. It’s something that, no matter how many awards he wins, the spotlight he’s in, he calls himself a coward for his inaction that day. The family nickname for his mother was Mom-Mom, a rather quiet woman who was only a victim of the twisted views of family her husband had. At an event hosted by Idris Elba in London, Smith admitted that he hadn’t talked to his mother about any of this before writing his memoir. He called the process “cathartic” and the honesty was “excruciating”.

His Parents’ Divorce


Will Smith’s parents were separated when he was 13, although they weren’t officially divorced until 2000. It was soon revealed that Will’s father hadn’t paid any child support over the years and owed a significant amount of money. Total, the amount was $140,000, and Smith’s mother was unwilling to budge an inch. However, Will didn’t want his father to go to jail. The two of them created “an underhanded, Ponzi-style backdoor deal,” in his own words, behind his mother’s back. He transferred the money to his father and ended up becoming the first person in the history of Pennsylvania to pay his own child support. And this wasn’t something his mother particularly agreed with.

Inspiring His Comedy


Like a lot of great entertainers, Will Smith ended up fueling his early comedy career with his sad childhood. In 2021, he told GQ, “Comedy defuses all negativity. It is impossible to be angry, hateful, or violent when you’re doubled over laughing”. So Will decided that, rather than letting all his anger and negativity build up inside of him, he’d be funny. About his father, he said, “I wanted to please and placate him because as long as Daddio was laughing and smiling, I believed, we would be safe.” He could please and placate his family, but it didn’t always work. And when things didn’t work he would always blame himself. “And it’s in this compulsive desire to constantly please others, to keep them laughing and smiling at all times, to redirect all the attention in the room away from the ugly and uncomfortable toward the joyful and the beautiful — it’s there that a true entertainer is born.”

Trouble With The IRS


While Will Smith is now a multi-millionaire, he wasn’t always this financially stable. He was a star thanks to some of his most famous rap songs, but he barely had any real financial success. While his first album with DJ Jazzy had done very well, the second one underperformed. Smith had ended up spending most of his money. And this led to trouble with the IRS when he had neglected to write a check when Tax Day came. As such, the IRS repossessed a lot of his more expensive purchases. Will recalled his time being both broke and famous, saying that what made it bad was that people would recognize him, but recognize him in locations like on the bus. Fortunately for him, his luck turned around when he met Benny Medina at Arsenio Hall’s talk show. And that soon led to him starring in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

His Own Divorce


According to Will, himself, “Divorce was the worst thing in my adult life”. Not only did he have to deal with his own parents’ separation and divorce, but his own as well. His first marriage was to Sheree Zampino, and the two had had a child together, Trey. In an interview with Red Table Talk, he revealed that, to him, divorce was his ultimate failure. He was even served the divorce papers on Valentine’s Day. Before their divorce was finalized, Will had began seeing Jada Pinkett, who would later become his second wife. However, there were quite a few arguments between the trio when it came to parenting. Jada didn’t understand marriage, and therefore she didn’t understand divorce. And this exasperated some of the issues between the divorcing couple.

Experiencing Racism


Despite being a Hollywood A-lister, Will Smith still faced racism in the past. He revealed in an interview with Pod Save America that he had been called racial slurs multiple time. Although, according to himself, never by someone with intelligence. He considers ignorance and evil to be twins that lead to bigotry. Although, while ignorance can be educated, evil is much more difficult to deal with. He has also talked about the racism in the world now, saying Racism is not getting worse, it’s getting filmed.”

Splitting From Jada


Will and Jada have been rather open about the difficulties in their marriage that they’ve faced over the years. And out of the struggles, the biggest one was in 2011. He had prepared a massive three day celebration with his wife, planning all sorts of activities and romantic gestures. However, while he saw himself as the greatest husband ever, Jada only saw his actions as display of his own ego. Will, irritated, said that he was done trying to make her happy and the two temporarily separated. Will ended up going on a retreat with a shaman, resetting him spiritually and mentally. Eventually, him and Jada reconciled.

James Avery Passing


James Avery, the actor of Uncle Phil on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, was a real father figure to Will Smith, both on-screen and behind the scenes. So he was obviously devastated when he found out Avery had died in 2013. Will called Avery a rock, someone that had helped him hone his acting skills and teach him real life lessons. About him, he said, “Some of my greatest lessons in Acting, Living and being a respectable human being came through James Avery. “Every young man needs an Uncle Phil. Rest in Peace.”

After Earth Flopped


An A-lister like Will Smith normally doesn’t have to worry about box office bombs. But in the case of After Earth, it was the biggest flop of his entire career. It was sci-fi survival film starring both Will and his son, Jaden. However, the movie was critically panned. Critics were particularly harsh on Jaden for his performance. Will said in a 2015 interview that it was the most painful failure of his career; “Wild Wild West was less painful than After Earth because my son was involved in After Earth and I led him into it. That was excruciating.” It actually led to Will stepping away from the movie business for a little while. Will had previously believed that if he made sure no one was ever better than him, he’d have everything he wanted. But after the failure of After Earth, he was forced to look his work in a different light.

His Father’s Death


And the failure of After Earth was even more quickly put into perspective by some more tragic news. In 2016, he found out that his father had developed cancer. Immediately after, he began working on a film about cancer, Collateral Beauty. Working on the film forced him come to terms with his father’s illness. But during that time, they were able to speak about topics that they had never explored before. His father had been given about a month to live. About the situation, Will said, “It’s something interesting when somebody knows that they’re gonna die… We tuned into one another in a way that we never had. He was given six weeks but he ended up living for three months.”

Jada’s Entanglement


And in 2020, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s marriage came under a lot of public scrutiny. This was after Jada had been discovered to have been entangled with August Alsina. Will revealed in an interview that he and his wife hadn’t been traditionally monogamous for some time. On the topic, he said, “I don’t suggest our road for anybody, but the experiences that the freedoms that we’ve given one another and the unconditional support, to me, is the highest definition of love.”

Struggling With Mental Health


And in all the things Will has been open to the public about, he has been honest about his mental health. When he was 13, he had even considered committing suicide. This was after his mother had walked out on his father, unable to continue to take the abuse. He had only contemplated it a few times in his life, but even once is a dangerous thought. But whenever he thought about it, he just remembered that his grandmother had told him that killing himself was a sin. He’s since soldiered on, detailing his mental and physical health in his YouTube series, Best Shape of My Life.

Going To Jail


After Will’s career had kicked off, he ended up spending a night in jail in 1989. That was because one of his bodyguards, Charles Alston had assaulted record produce William Hendricks. Not long after winning his first award for Best Rap Performance at the Grammys, he found himself in a brawl that landed him at what he described as his “rock bottom”. He was only 20 years old, and, even with the accomplishment under his belt, found himself losing his money and car on top of the night in jail. Because of the actions of Alston, Will was charged with aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, simple assault, and criminal conspiracy, although the charges were never pursued. Hendricks needed stitches on his eye socket after it was fractured by the bodyguard. Will had gone from the top of the world to rock bottom in one moment. Yet he was still able to rise up after this.