The superstar, who was made to feel deformed and beaten down at a young age, grew up to become a talented actor and a good father and husband.
One of the biggest Hollywood stars, Sylvester Stallone, has revisited his iconic creation Rocky Balboa many times over the course of his career. It is one of his best-loved roles and one that has given him rewards and riches. However, the story is one that has been told in many ways by many people. It shows us an underdog, beaten down, who rises to be the best they can be by sheer hard work.
While many inspiring people may have had a phase like that in their life, Stallone might as well have based the film on his own life. His struggles began as soon as he came into the world. During his birth, a medical intern tried to use forceps to drag him out of the womb by his face and ended up damaging his facial nerves. The incident left him with a "snarled" appearance and slurred speech, said Sheknows.
"I didn't think I was going to [have a career in film]. When I would try to get jobs in commercials, the director would go, 'What are you saying, what language is that?' I knew it was bad when Arnold Schwarzenegger said, 'You have an accent.' I go, 'I have an accent? Excuse me, what?' It's true. Arnold and I should open up a school for speech lessons. It would be perfect," he once said, according to Reuters.
The problems continued throughout his childhood with people victimizing him for his appearance while he struggled with his parents' difficult relationship. For a boy that young, the pressures from different angles were more than he could handle. He spent the majority of his childhood until the age of five in foster care because of his parents' volatile relationship. Eventually, he moved in with his father. However, the damage was already done and he was struggling emotionally and academically. He was suspended from 14 different catholic schools. Growing up in the Hell's Kitchen, a violent neighborhood in New York, was also another reason for his rough childhood.
He felt like "Mr. Potato Head with all the parts in the wrong place ... I wanted to be anybody but me," writes Chicago Tribune.
Even as a young adult, Stallone's difficulties were never-ending. He was evicted from his home at the age of 24 and he was forced to live on the streets for some time. He took up odd jobs to make a little money, including cleaning out cages for lions at a zoo. He even worked in an erotic film titled Party At Kitty And Stud’s to make some money. One of the most heartbreaking things he had to do during that tough phase was selling his dog to keep working on the script that made him a household name.
Success didn't come knocking until his script for Rocky, the inspiration for which struck him after watching a Muhammad Ali boxing match, was made into a movie in 1976. After multiple rejections, when the script was accepted by a production house he walked away from their offer when they refused to cast him in the lead role. The film when it was eventually made became a smash hit.
By 1985, he was a superstar but the pain he felt as a father was new to him. His son Seargeoh was diagnosed with autism and he and his estranged wife, Sasha Czeck, dealt with it separately. While Czeck was the one taking care of the boy Stallone earned the money so he could be looked after.
"There is no real father-and-son thing there. I have to become his playmate. With a child like this you have to put away your ego. You can't force him into your world. I sort of go along with whatever he is doing... After he gets to the point where he trusts you, a little more communication can start. The primary therapy is the repetition of words and instructions. He has shown an extraordinary memory, but he can't apply what he has learned," he told People.com.
"When a parent loses a child there is no greater pain. Therefore I am imploring people to respect my talented son’s memory and feel compassion for his loving mother Sasha. This agonizing loss will be felt for the rest of our lives. Sage was our first child and the center of our universe and I am humbly begging for all to have my son’s memory and soul left in peace," read the actor's statement, according to Metro.
Despite, the difficulties that piled up in his life, he never gave up, just like his character Rocky. Today, he is a devoted family man, married for more than 30 years to Jennifer Flavin.
They have three daughters and he loves nothing more than taking them out to the red carpet. When he revived his first character in the film Creed, he won his first Golden Globe award, something that has spurred him on to work harder.