Did Eminem Ever Forgive His Dad for Abandoning Him?

Eminem has never been too discrete about his family, and he certainly wasn’t ashamed to call both of his parents out in his iconic song, Cleaning Out My Closet. But most people only took notice of the lines he rapped about his mom. Not many took the time to read about what happened with his dad.

Eminem / Eminem / Marshall Bruce Mathers Jr. / Eminem, Nathan Kane Samara.
Source: Getty Images

That’s where we come in. Here’s the real story behind Eminem’s relationship with his dad, which, sadly, didn’t really exist. The rapper grew up without a father and spent several years as a kid writing letters to him in the hopes he would respond. It was only when Eminem got famous that his dad bothered to show his face.

Eminem’s Dad, Marshall Bruce Mathers Jr.

At 22 years old, Marshall Bruce Mathers Jr. tied the knot with Debbie, a then 15-year-old teen. Two years later, they welcomed their son, Marshall Bruce Mathers III. In other words, Eminem was born to two parents who were actually kids themselves.

A portrait of Marshall Bruce Mathers Jr.
Source: Facebook

Right after Marshall’s birth, his dad picked up and left. He and his mother then moved to Detroit. “He never knew his father,” Debbie wrote in her memoir titled My Son Marshall, My Son Eminem (2008), “and I did all I could to make up for it. I wanted Marshall to have a relationship with his father… but Bruce didn’t want to.”

Some Adults Had His Back

Eminem once sat down with Rolling Stone to talk about the adults in his life who actually loved and cared for him. He told the magazine that his great-aunt Edna and his great-uncle Charles, both from his father’s side, had his back. He recalled spending several weekends over at their house when his father would call, but, sadly, he never asked to speak to him.

A photo of Eminem as a newborn in his father’s arms.
Source: YouTube

“A lot of times he’d call, and I’d be there — maybe I’d be on the floor coloring or watching TV,” Eminem recalled. “It wouldn’t have been nothing for him to say, ‘Put him on the phone.’ He could talk to me, let me know something. ‘Cause as far as father figures, I didn’t have any in my life.”

It Was Only When Eminem Became Famous…

According to Eminem’s mom, as a teenager, Eminem used to send dozens of letters to his father, but they all returned perfectly sealed and marked “Return to Sender.” It was only after he became famous that his dad tried to get in touch with him.

A headshot of Eminem.
Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

In 2001, The Mirror Magazine reported that Marshall Bruce Mathers Jr. reached out to his son in the hopes of rekindling their non-existent relationship. He told the magazine: “I desperately want to meet my son and tell him that I love him. I’m not interested in his money. I just want to talk to him. I want him to know that I’m here for him if he lets me back into his life.”

The Tables Had Turned

Now, it was Marshall Bruce Mathers Jr. who was the one writing fan mail to his estranged son. In the letters he wrote, he told Eminem a completely different tale than the one his mom had told him when he was a kid.

A picture of Eminem in his early teens.
Source: YouTube

“You think I dumped you and your mother and never came looking for you. You’re convinced I’m a drunk who never answered any of your letters. Well, I want you to read this and realize you’ve been fed lies all your life,” Em’s father desperately wrote.

He Wasn’t Moved by the Story

Eminem is no gullible fool. He wasn’t moved at all by his father’s story, and in 2002, he called his dad out in the song “Cleaning Out My Closet” with the lyrics: “My f*cking father must have had his panties up in a bunch ’cause he split. I wonder if he even kissed me goodbye. No, I don’t, on second thought, I just f*cking wished he would die.”

A photo of Eminem’s father.
Source: YouTube

The rapper later stated that he knows nothing about his dad and that he certainly doesn’t want to get to know him now. For that reason, the reunion his dad hoped for never came to be. In 2019, Eminem’s dad died of a heart attack. He was 67 years old.

Where Is Eminem’s Brother Nathan Today?

If you’re a fan of the rapper’s music, then you’ve certainly heard him rap about his close family. Eminem has plenty of lyrics directed at the troubled relationship he has with his mom, Debbie Nelson-Mathers, and several other songs about the problems he has had with his ex-wife, Kim Scott.

Nathan speaks during an interview.
Source: ABC News

Another family member you may recall hearing about is his younger brother, Nathan. Let’s dive into Eminem’s half-sibling and see what their relationship has been like over the years and where it stands today.

Nathan Kane Samara, Em’s Half Brother

Nathan Kane Samara is 14 years younger than the rapper and was born at the start of 1986. Both brothers share the same mom but have different dads. According to what Eminem has said in several interviews as well as in his songs, the two brothers didn’t have the best childhood.

A dated picture of Nathan and Eminem / A photo of Nathan with his son today.
Source: Pinterest

Many people recall hearing Nathan’s name in Marshall Mathers’ hit song “Cleaning Out My Closet.” While addressing his mother, Em raps: “You’re getting older now and it’s cold when you’re lonely and Nathan’s growing up so quick, he’s gonna know that you’re phony.”

Eminem Gained Legal Custody of Him

Just like Eminem, Nathan also grew up without a dad. He left shortly right after Debbie gave birth to him. For that reason, young Eminem took it upon himself to become Nathan’s father figure. Apparently, things were so bad in the house that social services ended up taking Nathan away from his home.

A dated picture of Eminem and Nathan.
Photo by Barry King/WireImage/Getty Images

By the age of 16, Nathan no longer lived with his mom, but with Eminem who gained legal custody of him. Luckily for Nathan, when Debbie failed to act as a proper mother, he had someone to rely on (unlike in Eminem’s case). So, what Nathan’s up to today?

He’s an Aspiring Rapper

Nowadays, Nathan is an aspiring rapper who has toured with his famous brother and even appeared in several of his music videos. His musical credits include the singles “Slide on Over” and “Shadow of a Celebrity.”

A dated photo of Nathan / A current picture of Nathan.
Source: YouTube

Apart from rapping, Nathan has also tried his hand at acting. According to IMDb, he has featured in the horror flick, Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge (2020). Nowadays, Em’s half-brother also works as a personal trainer. As for his personal life, he is married to his longtime girlfriend Ashley. The two have three kids – two sons and one daughter.

What Is Debbie and Nathan’s Relationship Like?

Things between Eminem and his mom have improved over the years, and for that reason, Nathan’s feelings toward Debbie are different than they were before as well. Still, he doesn’t have an actual relationship with her. He has always stated that Em was more of a parent than his mom ever was.

A dated picture of Debbie and Eminem.
Source: Pinterest

Nathan and Eminem have an excellent relationship, and he has legally changed his name to Nathan Mathers. Nathan also has a wonderful connection with his niece, Eminem’s daughter, Hailie Jade. Fans have spotted the two exchanging comments on social media.

Where Is Eminem’s Mom Today?

Eminem has never seemed to care about insulting people in his songs: fellow rappers, pop stars, actors, and even his mom. He called out everyone. Through Eminem’s lyrics, the mother-son feud played out in public.

A still of Debbie Nelson speaking during an interview.
Photo by Mark Weiss/Getty Images

So, what exactly happened in Eminem’s childhood? What happened to Debbie Nelson-Mathers (who, to be fair, was just a kid when she had Eminem)? Let’s dive into their relationship and see where it stands today.

Eminem Had Some Harsh Things to Say

Debbie was just 18 years old when she became pregnant with Eminem. As noted above, shortly after her son’s birth, Debbie’s husband split. An abandoned single mother with little money, Debbie wandered around, struggling to make ends meet, and eventually settled in Detroit.

An image of Eminem talking at a microphone.
Photo by Skip Bolen/WireImage/Getty Images

Apart from her financial struggles, Debbie suffered from some serious psychological issues, including Munchausen syndrome. This psychological disorder is something Eminem has talked about in his songs.

What Is Munchausen Syndrome?

Debbie’s illness is a disorder where someone pretends to be sick just so they could get the empathy and compassion they need from their environment, or they pretend the person who is living with them is sick so they will constantly need them. Eminem has pointed out that this was the main reason Debbie was so abusive toward him and Nathan.

A dated portrait of Debbie.
Photo by Mark Weiss/Getty Images

In “Cleaning Out My Closet,” the rapper sang: “Just try to envision witnessing your momma popping prescription pills in the kitchen, B——- that someone’s always going through her purse and s—- missing, going through public housing systems, victim of Munchhausen’s Syndrome. My whole life I was made to believe I was sick when I wasn’t ‘til I grew up, now I blew up. It makes you sick to ya stomach. Doesn’t it?”

He Gave the World an Inside Glimpse

Eminem really opened up in Cleaning Out My Closet, saying things like: “You’re getting older now and it’s cold when you’re lonely and Nathan’s growing up so quick, he’s gonna know that you’re phony.” Eminem also touched upon Hailie in the song:

A still from the music video.
Source: YouTube

“Hailie’s getting so big now, you should see her, she’s beautiful. But you’ll never see her, she won’t even be at your funeral! See what hurts me the most is you won’t admit you was wrong. B*ch do your song, keep telling yourself that you was a mom!”

Debbie Sued Her Own Son

After Eminem released those harsh words, his mom decided to sue him for defamation. She was clearly offended and felt like he had humiliated her in front of the whole world. She filed a lawsuit for more than $10 million, stating that everything he said was a flat-out lie.

Debbie Mathers holds a poster with a message that reads Mom.
Photo by Mark Weiss/Getty Images

Eventually, after a $25,000 settlement, the judge assigned to the case ruled that Debbie would only get $1,600. Later, Debbie would cash in on some of her son’s popularity by releasing her own song called Dear Marshall in which she shares her side of the story.

She Wrote an Autobiography

The story between Eminem and his mom really piqued everyone’s interest. Debbie knew the world wanted to know more, and she was more than happy to tell her side of the story. She published her very own memoir titled “My Son Marshall, My Son Eminem.”

A portrait of Debbie during an interview.
Photo by Mark Weiss/Getty Images

In the autobiography, Debbie writes about her life as Eminem’s mother, and the difficulties she experienced as a young single mom: the lack of support she struggled with, the fear of being abandoned again, and the abuse she suffered at the hands of the men in her life.

Em’s Life Is Reflected in His Music

In response to Debbie’s lawsuit, Eminem’s lawyer Paul Rosenberg released a statement: “Eminem’s life is reflected in his music. Everything he has said can be verified as true. Truth is an absolute defense to a claim of defamation. This lawsuit does not come as a surprise to Eminem.”

A dated picture of Eminem performing on stage.
Photo by Martin Philbey/Getty Images

“[Debbie] has been threatening to sue him since the success of his single My Name Is. [The lawsuit] is merely the result of a lifelong strained relationship between him and his mother. Regardless, it is still painful to be sued by your mother and therefore the lawsuit will only be dealt with through legal channels.”

People Thought She Was Dead

Many rumors have surfaced over the years surrounding Eminem’s mom. In 2010, several reports stated that she passed away from breast cancer. But that certainly wasn’t the case. While Debbie was indeed diagnosed with breast cancer, it was Eminem’s great-aunt Edna Swartz who died. Eminem often referred to her as his real mom.

A picture of Eminem walking the street.
Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for YouTube/Getty Images

As for Debbie, who is still alive and well, she has been keeping out of the public eye for the past few years. Nowadays, she is married to a man named John Briggs and her estimated net worth today is around $700,000.

How Are Things Between the Two Today?

So, how are things between her and Eminem today? Thankfully, things between the two have gotten much, much better. In 2013, Eminem shocked his fans when he released the song “Headlights,” an apology dedicated to his mom.

A still from the music video.
Source: YouTube

In the song, he raps about forgiving her for the harsh years and apologizes for taking things a bit too far with the lyrics he published about her. He has grown up since then, and as a parent himself, his perspective has slightly changed. Today, both Debbie and her son have stated that respect each other.

Moving On to More Eminem Feuds

Eminem’s feuds don’t begin and end with his parents. The rapper has badmouthed a ton of people. Recently, Danica Patrick, a former NASCAR driver, and Eminem have made headlines, for different reasons. But their names surfacing at precisely the same time have reminded the public of a time when they feuded for no good reason.

Danica Patrick attends an event.
Photo by Dia Dipasupil/FilmMagic/Getty Images

As it turns out, Eminem insulted Danica Patrick in at least two of his songs. In 2013, he released the single “So Far,” where he raps about Danica, calling her a nylon and skirt wearing “vacuum.”

What a Bizarre Feud…

In So Far, Eminem sings: “Look at her dag/Her nylons are ran, her skirt’s snagged/And I heard she drag-races … swag/Tuck in my Hanes shirt tag/You’re Danica Patrick (Yeah?) word, skag/We’d be the perfect match/‘Cause you’re a vacuum, I’m a dirtbag.

A photo of Eminem performing on stage.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Well, he wasn’t technically offending her, was he? First off, he insulted himself, referring to himself as a dirtbag. If anything, Danica is a vacuum who is there to clean him of his filth, no? Still, these words didn’t sit well with Danica.

He Didn’t Stop There

If So Far would have been the only track dissing Danica, then maybe things wouldn’t have gotten blown out of proportion. However, the rapper didn’t stop with just one diss. He brought her up again in 2018 in his track Venom.

Eminem performs on stage.
Photo by C Flanigan/WireImage/Getty Images

The lyrics include: “So this ain’t gonna feel like a love tap/Eat painkiller pill, (expletive) a blood track/Like, what’s her name’s at the wheel? Danica Patrick/Throw the car into reverse at the Indy, end up crashin’/Into ya, the back of it–just mangled steel/My Mustang and your Jeep Wrangler grill.”

What Exactly Did He Mean?

So, what exactly did Eminem mean when he sang about Patrick in Venom. What exactly did Danica do to piss him off? Well, if we look back at So Far for a moment, by calling her a “vacuum,” Eminem basically meant that she sucked.

A picture of Danica.
Photo by Elsa/SRX/Getty Images

In his song, Venom, the words he sang basically meant that the only thing he remembered about Danica was the fact that she crashed a lot. As for what Danica did to get on Em’s blacklist, no one knows. That’s precisely what makes this beef so utterly strange.

Eminem Isn’t a Fan, but Jay-Z Is

While the rap god may not be a fan of Danica (clearly), a fellow rapper in the field is. Jay-Z reportedly looks up to the driver, so much so that he cast her in the music video for his 2006 song “Show Me What You Got.”

A portrait of Jay-Z walking the street.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

“It just felt fun,” Jay-Z told MTV News at the time; “I didn’t want to put too much on it. I didn’t want to go super heavy or complex with the lyrics. It’s almost like this male/female banter. Show me what you got, purdy lady.”

Eminem vs. Christina Aguilera

Throughout his career, Eminem has dissed just about everyone in the business, from rappers to pop stars. One such star is Christina Aguilera. In fact, she was one of the first stars Eminem dissed in his iconic single, “The Real Slim Shady.”

Christina Aguilera attends an event.
Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic/Getty Images

The remarks he made about the pop star really sparked their feud. At first, fans believed things were better between them after they both stood on the same stage together. They had reportedly hugged it out afterward behind the scenes. But no.

Their Truce Was Short-Lived

The truth was, fans wanted to believe Christina and Eminem were on good terms because there’s nothing like seeing people hug it out after a nasty beef. But, in fact, Eminem’s future songs reveal that their feud was far from over. Christina became one of the rapper’s favorite targets.

A dated image of Eminem and Christina Aguilera together on stage.
Photo by Scott Gries/ImageDirect/Getty Images

Over the years, Eminem has said some seriously offensive things about the singer. It seemed like he wasn’t willing to let her go. Some fans even began to wonder if this was Eminem’s way of wooing her, kind of like how little boys tug on their crush’s pigtail.

How the Feud Began

Eminem and Christina’s feud began in 1999 when Christina Aguilera leaked some sweet and secret details during her MTV special What A Girl Wants about the rapper marrying his longtime girlfriend, Kim. The ceremony was a secret, and Christina just blabbed it out.

A photo of Christina Aguilera at the time.
Photo by Vinnie Zuffante/Michael Ochs Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Christina Aguilera followed it up by discussing the consequences of physical abuse in relationships. Eminem wasn’t too happy about Christina airing out his dirty laundry. Therefore, he went after her in his song, The Real Slim Shady, rapping the lyrics: “Little b*tch put me on blast on MTV ‘Yeah, he’s cute, but I think he’s married to Kim, hee-hee.’ I should download her audio on MP3 and show the whole world how you gave Eminem VD!”

She Denied Ever Being With Him

Christina denied any romantic involvement with the rapper. However, that’s not the only time the pop princess felt his wrath. Eminem also rapped about her in “Off the Wall” featuring Redman. He rapped: “Causing terror to Christina Aguilera. When I grab her by the hair and drag her across the Sahara.”

A dated photo of Christina Aguilera arriving at an event.
Photo by Anthony Harvey/PA Images/Getty Images

So, how did Christina respond to the disses? Well, she went ahead and released a song of her own. In her single, “Can’t Hold Us Down,” featured in her 2002 album, she sings: “So what, am I not supposed to have an opinion? Should I keep quiet just because I’m a woman? Call me a b*tch cause I speak what’s on my mind. Guess it’s easier for you to swallow if I sat and smiled.”

She Met Him Face to Face

In the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards, Christina had to face her nemesis after being tasked with presenting him the award for Best Male Video. No one really knew what was going to happen as Eminem walked across the stage. All eyes were on them.

Eminem and Christina Aguilera are on the stage of the VMAs.
Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Thankfully, nothing too serious happened. Eminem simply took the prize from Aguilera and said, “thank you.” According to the press, the two musicians tried to talk it out afterward. But, sadly, their beef wasn’t over yet.

No Love Lost Between Them

For several years, many believed that their feud was over. However, in 2018, in a freestyle skit titled Kick-Off, Eminem mentioned the pop star again, rapping: “F*ck Christina with a plastic spoon. While I bump some G-Funk and blast some Snoop. ‘Cause her double G-cups are massive, huge!”

A photo of Christina Aguilera at the time.
Photo by Dominik Bindl/Getty Images

When asked to discuss the line, Christina stated: “I don’t know what’s going on there. That’s really in the past and, you know, it was thirsty then, it’s thirsty now… It’s not nice to go after anybody, especially a female in this business, and now, what we’re looking at and seeing come to the forefront, it’s just, get a new gig. Have something else to talk about.”

What About Will Smith and Eminem?

One of Eminem’s most well-known beefs was with Will Smith (weird, right?). It started when Eminem thought Smith dissed him at an acceptance speech at MTV’s VMAs. However, according to a few sources, their feud goes way back.

A dated studio portrait of Will Smith.
Photo by Harry Langdon/Getty Images

First of all, what exactly happened at the 1999 VMAs? For those of you who don’t know, Will Smith beat out Eminem in the Best Made Video category. In his acceptance speech, he noted that he didn’t curse or diss anyone in his songs in order to be awarded the honor.

The Speech Rubbed the Rapper the Wrong Way

Eminem took Will Smith’s comment as a personal diss. Since the only other musicians in the run for the prize in that specific category were Lenny Kravitz (for the song Fly Away) and Ricky Martin (for Livin’ la Vida Loca). Yup, neither song dissed anyone.

An image of Eminem talking on stage.
Photo by Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect/Getty Images

It’s important to note that the rapper took home the prize for “The Real Slim Shady” in that same category the following year. But in 1999, Eminem was less than pleased with Smith’s words and decided to fight back with a diss.

Eminem Fired Back

The rapper did what he knows how to do best when it comes to people who annoy him – he took a few jabs at Will Smith. The rapper rapped about him in his song The Real Slim Shady with the lyrics: “Will Smith doesn’t have to cuss to sell records / Well, I do / So f*ck him. And f*ck you too.”

Will Smith attends an event.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Eminem then mocked Will Smith by referring to him in his music video for “Forgot About Dre.” In one scene, the music stops, and a drunk-looking Eminem tells the reporter: “Yeah, all I know is I’m upstairs and I’m listening to my Will Smith CD, and I seen all these flames.”

Finally, Smith Fired Back

It took Will Smith quite a while to talk back to the rapper. Finally, he released a statement. Will Smith fires back at Eminem in his song Mr. Nice Guy (2005), with the lines:

A photo of Will Smith during a press conference.
Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

“Mr. Nice Guy, relationship advice guy…Light on the vices, priceless smile…Look at the eyes, got the look…Of a survivor, husband, father…Dissed by Eminem but didn’t bother him…Yup well he classy…Big Will just get another 20 mill’ walk right past E…I’ma nice guy why ya’ll harassing me, huh!”

There’s More

Several years later, Will Smith’s close buddy DJ Jazzy Jeff (also known as Jeff Townes) shared that Will Smith and Eminem had actually met years before their feud allegedly began. He explained that Eminem didn’t appreciate Smith from the very first time the two met.

DJ Jazzy Jeff poses for the press / A dated photo of DJ Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith.
Photo by Jon Kopaloff, FilmMagic, Getty Images / Ron Galella, Ron Galella Collection, Getty Images

When DJ Jazzy Jeff and Eminem met up for a recording session, Will Smith walked into the studio. “Will walked into the room, and I think I played ‘Just The Two Of Us.’ Will listened to it, and Will looked at Eminem and said, ‘You are either gonna be the biggest flop in hip hop, or you are gonna be the biggest thing that we have ever seen in hip hop. And Eminem never forgot that,” DJ explained.