Media mogul Oprah Winfrey did not grow up in an ideal family setting. However, she was blessed with a loving father who looked out for her. To date, she remains grateful to him.
On top of Oprah's ageless beauty and youthful energy is her desire to make a long-lasting impact in the world. To an extent, she has beaten all odds, becoming a philanthropist, billionaire, actress, author, producer, and TV host.
The first black female billionaire is one whose background was plagued by abuse and neglect. Oprah was born in Mississippi to young parents. Her mother, Vernita Lee, 18, and father, Vernon Winfrey, 20, did not live as a couple.
Media mogul Oprah Winfrey at the "Greenleaf" Press Conference held at the Four Seasons Hotel on September 26, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. | Source: Getty Images
So their daughter was left in the care of her maternal grandmother, who was a disciplinarian. When Oprah turned 6, her guardian fell ill, and her life turned upside down.
She was sent to live with her mother in Milwaukee. There, young Oprah did not enjoy a safe or comfortable sleeping condition as her nights were passed on the porch.
This was merely the beginning of her unsettling childhood. Oprah recalled that her mother was not intentional in raising her. Instead, Vernita exposed her young child to traumatic experiences.
At 9, she was sexually assaulted. Sadly, Oprah continued to suffer from sexual predators who were no stranger to the family—she was exploited by an uncle and family friend.
Consequently, Oprah felt lost in a world that seemed beyond her control, so she resorted to rebellion. Oprah, born in Mississippi, often challenged her mother and stayed out late. In describing her behavior, the author used the words "wild" and "promiscuous."
The growing teenager couldn't set boundaries or understand the outcome of such a lifestyle. Eventually, at age 14, she got pregnant.
Vernita considered keeping her inexperienced daughter in a girls' detention home, which Oprah hated. Fortunately for the teenager who believed she was not supposed to be in the facility, she was not admitted due to lack of room—Oprah was sent to live with her father, Vernon.
HER STRICT FATHER HELPED HER SURVIVE THE DEATH OF A CHILD AT 14
Although living with her dad (a former military officer) might have seemed the better option, Oprah was too afraid to tell him that she was expecting a child. Instead, the teenager concealed her pregnancy until it became noticeable.
The same day she confessed, the young mother went into labor and gave birth to a son. Sadly, the baby died before Oprah could hold him.
Even though this was a tragedy, the teenager did not realize her loss, as she barely felt connected to the deceased. However, her strict father helped her through the moment.
Vernon did not play the blame game; instead, he opened his daughter's mind to the possibility of a bright future. According to the media mogul:
"When that child died, my father said to me, 'This is your second chance. This is your opportunity to seize this moment and make something of your life.'"
Vernon Winfrey and his daughter, Oprah Winfrey, pictured arriving at the opening of "Charlie's War" at the Nashville Film Festival at the Green Hills Regal Cinema on May 2, 2003, in Nashville, Tennessee. | Source: Getty Images
These words lingered in her heart, and they influenced her mindset. Oprah has credited her success to her father, explaining that her time with him as a child reshaped her world.
The TV host confessed that the former military officer was very strict and never compromised his plans. Vernon gave his daughter the family she needed, setting her on a more structured path. She said:
"It changed the course of my life. He saved me. He simply knew what he wanted and expected. He would take nothing less."
This all happened because of Vernon's willingness to change his daughter. He spoke to her about boys, banned her from wearing tacky clothes, and often cleaned off her excess makeup.
He was intentional about producing a better daughter who was focused and had a sense of purpose. Vernon had heart-to-heart conversations with Oprah, and consequently, she made smart decisions.
OPRAH'S FATHER HAS CANCER: SHE THROWS HIM A PARTY "WHILE HE IS STILL WELL ENOUGH"
Although, as a young girl, Oprah did not fully understand her father's, tough love. But growing into a successful adult made her appreciate Vernon's sacrifices.
Despite being a billionaire, with all the fame and fortune, love from fans and close friends, Oprah still remembers the man who was with her when she had nothing and knew no better.
Vernon Winfrey pictured cutting hair on Roland Jones at his barbershop in Nashville, Tennessee. | Source: Getty Images
Vernon, who had worked as a barber for decades, is now 88 and suffers from cancer. Fortunately, his famous daughter has been supportive, spending her time and resources to care for him.
Four days ago, while the country celebrated its historical holiday, the media mogul hosted an appreciation party for her father. This was a surprise backyard barbecue celebration that included friends and family.
The guest list had the likes of Christine, Vernon's sister, and Wintley Phipps, a gospel singer who performed. This was an event scheduled for her father's enjoyment.
In a shared clip, Oprah, who dressed casually, showed the party setting. It featured a huge banner with the words "Vernon Winfrey Appreciation Celebration." In the backyard, there were tables matted with food.
Oprah revealed that it was a party to honor her dad "while he is still well enough" to witness the love. Vernon was already at the venue, sitting in a barber chair; he believed it was a 4th of July celebration. During the event, the TV host thanked her dad for his years of training. She said:
"I learned from your good work ethic, showing up, being on time - that is why for 25 years of The Oprah Winfrey Show, I never missed a show."
OPRAH BOUGHT HER FATHER'S BUSINESS LEAVING HIS WIFE WITH NOTHING
In 2012, Oprah and her dad were in the news simultaneously. This was because the media mogul purchased her dad's barbershop in Nashville.
Vernon and his wife, Barbara, managed the business for many years. However, when the building went into foreclosure, they had limited options.
Barbara claimed she wanted to loan money to fix it, but her husband was not having any of it. Eventually, the barbershop was auctioned, and Oprah bought it.
This meant that ownership was transferred to Oprah. Although her father still managed the business, Barbara was left with nothing. Vernon's wife felt terrible about the way things turned out. She claimed:
"People are giving him wrong advice, and it's leaving me in a situation where all I can do is fight for me... His daughter doesn't care about the community. His daughter doesn't care about the barbershop. But I do."
Following the sale of their business, Vernon filed for divorce, and in 2013, it was finalized. Despite the allegations, father and daughter continue to grow closer, and Oprah has never given her dad a reason to doubt her love for him.
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