MONEY, glamour, fame…Hollywood celebrities look like they have it all. But life before the A-list wasn’t always a picnic for some of today’s hottest stars, who were bullied like scores of kids today. “Bullying is everywhere, even among kids who would grow up to be Hollywood stars,” says Dr. Allan L. Beane, author of “The Bully Free Classroom” and a nationally recognized expert on the subject. “These celebrities managed to succeed despite being bullied, but many never do. They carry the baggage of bullying through their whole lives.”
SANDRA BULLOCK The life of “Miss Congeniality” Sandra Bullock wasn’t always so congenial – especially in junior high. At the time, she spoke with a lisp and had just returned to the U.S. after living in Europe. “I came back in the middle of puberty and I was not well-liked,” Sandra, 49, later recalled. “I called it ass-kicking – they now call it bullying.” But Sandra’s mom encouraged her to embrace her uniqueness. “I’ve made peace with the fact that the things I thought were weaknesses or flaws were just me. I like them.” Her advice for other kids struggling with bullies: “Don’t change! Be who you are.”
TIGER WOODS Top golfer and serial cheater Tiger Woods, 37, claims he was attacked by some older kids his first day in kindergarten. “A group of sixth-graders tied me to a tree, spray-painted the N-word on me and threw rocks at me,” Tiger recalled. Later on, he added, he “had to outrun all these kids while going home.” But Tiger is getting the last laugh – he’s still earning a fortune on the links and off!
LADY GAGA Super-singer Lady Gaga kicked in $1.2 million to start the Born This Way Foundation, an organization that counts battling bullying among its missions. The issue is an important one for the 27-year-old “Applause” singer because she was targeted by vicious bullies as a teen. “I was called really horrible, profane names very loudly in front of huge crowds of people, and my schoolwork suffered at one point,” she said. “I was so ashamed of who I was.” These days, Gaga is one of the most popular and flamboyant entertainers in the business – and there’s definitely no shame in her game anymore!
TOM CRUISE Tom Cruise, 51, may play rough, tough action heroes in movies like “Mission: Impossible,” but until he learned to fight back against the bullies, they made his life a living hell. “So many times the big bully comes up, pushes me,” he said. “Your heart’s pounding, you sweat, and you feel like you’re going to vomit. I’m not the biggest guy. I never liked hitting someone, but I know if I don’t hit that guy hard, he’s going to pick on me all year. I go, ‘You better fight.’ I just laid it down. I don’t like bullies.” Today, Tom saves his hand-to-hand combat for the big screen!
JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE Justin Timberlake, 32, says if you didn’t play football in his hometown of Memphis, Tenn., the other kids would call you a sissy. “I got slurs all the time because I was into music and art,” said the Emmy- and Grammy-winner. “I was an outcast in a lot of ways, but everything that you get picked on for, or you feel makes you weird, is essentially what’s going to make you sexy as an adult.” And we all know JT brought the “SexyBack”!
ROBERT PATTINSON “Twilight” star Robert Pattinson, 27, says he was bullied after he discovered how much he loved acting. “I got beaten up by a lot of people when I was younger,” he said. “I was a bit of an idiot, but I always thought the assaults were unprovoked. It was after I first started acting and I liked to behave like an actor, or how I thought an actor was supposed to be, and that apparently provoked a lot of people into hitting me.” Women everywhere are glad those beatings didn’t leave permanent damage!
MILEY CYRUS It’s hard to imagine Miley Cyrus ever being a victim, but the “Wrecking Ball” beauty says she was bullied mercilessly by bigger girls when she was a preteen growing up in Tennessee. “The girls took it beyond bullying,” recalled the 21-year-old former “Hannah Montana” star. “I was scrawny and short. They were fully capable of doing me bodily harm.” Once, the girls even locked her in the school bathroom. “They shoved me in,” Miley said. “I was trapped. I banged on the door until my fists hurt. Nobody came. I spent what felt like an hour in there, waiting for someone to rescue me, wondering how my life had gotten so messed up.” Little Miley has definitely turned the tables on those “mean girls” – and they probably won’t be getting any free concert tickets anytime soon!