Remember the first time you heard “Love the Way You Lie” by rap icon Eminem featuring everyone’s favorite bad gyal Rihanna? Or when you heard that Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West had named their first born North West and all the directional jokes that ensued? Where were you when Leonardo DiCaprio finally won that elusive Academy Award for the Revenant? What about when Sandra Bullock gushed about adopting her babies?
Now imagine if none of these things had ever happened. Believe it or not, were it not for divine intervention some of our favorite stars would not be with us today. Em, Yeezy, Leo, Sandy, and many others are counting their lucky stars after coming close to death and living to tell the tale.
18. Sandra Bullock
It’s ironic that actress Sandra Bullock starred in the Oscar-winning film Crash, because she was once involved in a scary life-threatening experience of her own. Back in 2000, the Academy Award-winning actress and her then boyfriend Bob Schneider were heading to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for Christmas when the chartered twin-engine corporate plane that they were traveling in skidded off the runway during a nighttime landing. The aircraft hit a snowbank before splitting apart. Fortunately, everyone was able to walk away from the wreck with only minor injuries.
17. 50 Cent
Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson’s debut rap album Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ and film of the same name were actually inspired by his own near-death experience. In April 2000, while sitting in a car outside his grandmother’s house in south-east Queens, the rapper was shot nine times. The bullets punctured his hand, hip, left cheek, arm, chest, and both legs. The incident left him bedridden in a hospital for 13 days, and he eventually left using a walker. It would be another six weeks before he was able to walk on his own. If a silver lining can be found from such a horrific situation, the shooting left him with a drawl that would become his signature sound in the rap game.
16. Tracy Morgan
Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock comic Tracy Morgan is used to making audiences laugh with his special brand of humor. But the events of June 7, 2014 were no laughing matter. Morgan and others were returning from a stand-up gig at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino in Delaware, when a tractor-trailer struck the limo-bus that they were riding in. The crash claimed the life of his fellow comedian and longtime friend James McNair. Morgan suffered broken ribs, a broken leg, brain injuries, and was placed in a medically-induced coma. Surviving a near death experience has made a huge impact on Morgan. He told Oprah Winfrey on Super Soul Sunday, “’Something’s different. The way I am with people.’ I find myself saying ‘I love you’ 200 times a day to strangers. I don’t care. I don’t have to know you to love you!”
15. Gloria Estefan
Legendary singer Gloria Estefan was in the prime of her career when a life-altering event occurred and nearly took her life. In March 1990, Estefan was asleep on a bunk in her tour bus, bound for a concert in Syracuse, New York, when a truck crashed into their vehicle from behind. She was thrown from the bed into the middle of the bus which resulted in a broken vertebra. Her husband, Emilio, and son, Nayib, were also on the tour bus but suffered minor injuries. Doctors at a nearby medical center stabilized her back before she was flown via helicopter to New York City to have her vertebrae realigned and fused. A year of intense physical therapy ensued but the songstress triumphantly returned to the spotlight and continued her immensely successful career.
14. Sharon Stone
Screen siren Sharon Stone suffered a brain hemorrhage in 2001 that almost took her life. An artery tore at the base of her skull which caused internal bleeding. Stone described the incident as feeling like a shot in the head. “That’s the only way I can really describe it,” she said adding, “It hit me so hard, it knocked me over on the sofa.” The Basic Instinct star has since shared her “white light” experience. She told Katie Couric, “When death comes to you, as it will, it’s a glorious and beautiful thing. This kind of giant vortex of white light was upon me and I… sort of took off into this glorious, bright, bright, bright white light.”
13. Rachel Bilson
The O.C. actress was a bit of a hard partier in her teenage years when things came to a head at age 16. The actress explained the situation during her press tour for the film Jumper. “I was with my girlfriend and these two guys driving down the Pacific Coast Highway. We were going really fast and we were involved in a head-on collision with a truck. We were in a tiny car and it was a pretty bad crash. They had to cut us out and I was in a coma for a few days. The crash ended that relationship, which is a good thing.” Sometimes near-death experiences can make you reevaluate your life and the people you keep in it!
12. Stephen King
It was like something out of one of King’s horror novels. In 1999, the author was walking alongside a road in North Lovell, Maine where he keeps a summer home when he was struck by a van. The collision left King with serious injuries to his head, a punctured lung, broken bones in his right hip and leg, and broken ribs. King underwent five operations and remained in the hospital for three weeks. At the driver’s hearing, King sent in a statement that read in part, “What he took from me, my time, my peace of mind and my ease of body, are simply gone and no court can bring them back.” Tragic on all fronts.
11. Dustin Hoffman
Actor Dustin Hoffman cheated death by leaving his New York City home before the building next door was demolished in an accidental explosion. A radical student anti-war group known as Weather Underground were supposedly making bombs when they unintentionally triggered a stick of dynamite. Hoffman’s wife Ann also narrowly escaped harm’s way as she had just stepped down the block when the incident occurred. She returned to quickly rescue their dog. Luckily, their son was at school when the incident took place. The actor also rushed back to salvage some paintings which were gifts from a friend.
10. Martin Lawrence
Don’t ever doubt the amount of preparation some actors undergo for their roles. Sometimes it gets a little too intense. In 1999, comedian Martin Lawrence was trying to lose weight for a role and saying he went way overboard is an understatement. He decided to jog in multiple layers of clothing in intense heat – an incredibly dangerous move when you’re trying to drop a few pounds. His girlfriend found him collapsed on the front steps of his home with a temperature of 107 degrees Fahrenheit. The actor was reportedly close to death from a heat stroke when he was rushed to a nearby hospital and slipped into a coma. He regained consciousness three days later. Terrifying.
9. Gary Busey
One time Hollywood bad boy Gary Busey almost lost his life. In December, 1988, the actor was riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle in Los Angeles, California when he crashed into a highway guardrail. Busey was not wearing a helmet and he slammed into the curb headfirst. The impact split his skull and left the actor requiring hours of neurosurgery. During this time, he was essentially dead on the operating table. Busey would later describe that period of death as seeing “balls of light in the air.” He said, “I died after surgery and I went to the Other Side and I had quite a journey that started me in a new door of my life.” He made it through the medical trauma, and even danced on Dancing with the Stars a few seasons ago.
8. Johnny Depp
Acting isn’t just a game of make believe. Sometimes there’s serious danger, just ask Johnny Depp. The actor found himself in peril after a stunt went wrong on-set. For his role as Tonto in The Lone Ranger, Depp was galloping on his horse when the steed bucked and sent the actor flying off. Depp was then dragged by the speeding horse as he continued to cling to its mane before eventually falling to the ground. Director Gore Verbinski summed up the difficulties actors face when performing their own stunts, saying, “This is really dangerous. And it’s not only dangerous, it’s also really hard to achieve.”
7. Kanye West
Before Yeezy was a Grammy Award-winning rapper, he was a producer making beats for the likes of Jay-Z and others. After wrapping up a late-night session with The Black Eyed Peas, Peedi Crack, and Beanie Sigel, Kanye headed for home around 3 AM. The car he was driving was cut off and caused him to veer into oncoming traffic. His rented Lexus ran head-on into another vehicle. West’s injuries were so severe that he needed reconstructive surgery and had a metal plate inserted in his chin. The accident would serve as the inspiration for the first single off his debut album,“Through the Wire.”
The legendary rapper has been open about his past struggles with prescription drugs which left him on the edge of death in December 2007. In a Rolling Stone interview, the star born Marshall Mathers III detailed the events leading up to his eventual hospitalization. Mathers admitted to sometimes ingesting 40–60 valium per day at one point. The near-fatal dose came when he consumed methadone, which he mistakenly believed was Vicodin. He collapsed on his bathroom floor and woke up in the hospital two days later. According to the rapper, “The doctors told me I’d done the equivalent of four bags of heroin. They said I was about two hours from dying.” That’s wild!
5. Amy Schumer
Believe it or not, the actress-comedian didn’t spend her childhood in drama club. Instead, she was active in sports like volleyball and surfing. It was the latter that would leave her with a deep gash and quite a story to tell. Schumer was well out into the ocean in her native New York when she accidentally stabbed herself with the fin on the bottom of her board. The beach was pretty isolated, but luckily, Schumer managed to find a kind stranger who held her leg closed to stop the blood from gushing until they could get help. And in typical funny-gal fashion, Amy cracked jokes until the ambulance arrived.
U2’s charismatic frontman called himself the luckiest man on Earth after surviving a near-death experience which influenced the band’s album aptly titled, Songs of Experience. As for the nature of the experience in question, well, that’s where the waters get a bit murky. See, no one actually knows what exactly happened. The rocker has admitted that the issue was physical but won’t get more specific than that. Damn, this guy’s myseterious! He said of the incident, “I felt very alone and very frightened and not able to speak and not able to even explain my fear.”
3. Travis Barker
Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker has stared death in the face and won. In September 2008, the Learjet carrying Barker, DJ AM and others from Columbia, South Carolina to California crashed during takeoff. Barker and DJ AM survived, but Barker’s assistant, security guard, and the two pilots tragically died during the incident. The plane exploded, leaving Barker’s body 65% burned. He endured 27 surgeries, experienced excruciating pain, and harbored suicidal thoughts while in recovery. DJ AM died in 2009 of an apparent drug overdose. Nowadays, Barker has a pretty intense fear of flying and has stated that he would only do it if his kids want to. That’s one way to face your fears.
2. Lamar Odom
Former NBA player Lamar Odom made news for all the wrong reasons in October 2015. The baller was found unconscious in a Nevada brothel after a night of hard partying. According to reports, Odom had been taking cocaine and sexual performance enhancers for three days when he was found foaming at the mouth. He was comatose for four days, suffered 12 strokes and had two heart attacks. Family and friends rushed to his aid, including estranged wife Khloe Kardashian who remained firmly by his side throughout the ordeal and subsequent recovery. Odom knows he dodged the proverbial bullet. “I shook hands with death,” he said. “But you know what? Ain’t no coming back from that. Even though my funeral would probably be a good funeral, and there’d probably be a lot of people who hadn’t seen each other in a long time. But it ain’t time for that yet.” Khloe put off the divorce until he got back on his feet, and now everything seems to be on the up-and-up.
1. Leonardo DiCaprio
DiCaprio is well-known not just as an actor, but as an environmental activist. It was the latter passion that led him to an expedition in the Galapagos islands with director Fisher Stevens, who was on hand to film marine biologist Sylvia Earle. Since DiCaprio was Earle’s diving buddy, Stevens allowed him to capture some footage of her. The two set off and it would be another twenty minutes before Stevens would encounter them again. This time, DiCaprio was barely breathing and actor Ed Norton had legit saved his life! According to Stevens, “Leo’s tank was leaking oxygen, and Edward had to save him! It was pretty crazy. But he actually did get some film for me and it was good for a second and then it got pretty shaky when he couldn’t breathe.” Leo almost drowning in the vast sea? Talk about life imitating art!