Taraji Henson’s Painful Road To Hollywood Fame Proves Everything Is Possible.

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Most people would recognize Taraji P. Henson in a crowd by now. She's a successful film and television actress with roles in Baby Boy, Hustle & Flow, Empire, and more. She's also incredibly charismatic — every time she shows up at an award show, she somehow manages to go viral with her speeches or adorable reactions.

But what many people don't know is that Henson has a dark past, one speckled with pain, heartache, and violence and moments that would change the course of her life forever. Now, Henson is sharing some of those dark memories, along with why they were so important for her and her son, Marcell, to get through.

It's hard to believe that someone at her level of success has ever been in such a dark place, but it's also a testiment to her character that she's made it this far in spite of it all. See Henson's story below.

Taraji P. Henson is a talented actress, best known for her role on FOX's "Empire."

Recently, Henson opened up about her past — it’s a heartbreaking story, and what’s more surprising is that most have no idea what she’s been through before becoming famous.

Taraji P. Henson is a talented actress, best known for her role on FOX's "Empire."

Taraji’s former boyfriend, William LaMarr Johnson — the father of her 20-year-old son, Marcell — was brutally beaten and knifed to death 12 years ago.

She met Johnson while she was attending Howard University in Washington D.C., and she became pregnant during her junior year.

Taraji’s former boyfriend, William LaMarr Johnson -- the father of her 20-year-old son, Marcell -- was brutally beaten and knifed to death 12 years ago.

Taraji P. Henson/Instagram

Even at the time, Henson realized that Johnson might get caught up in some trouble.

“I had my one bad boy,” she remembers.

Even at the time, Henson realized that Johnson might get caught up in some trouble.

What happened to Johnson is eerily reminiscent of some of the plot lines in Henson's show, "Empire."

In 2003, Johnson confronted neighbors in the D.C. apartment and accused them of slashing his friend’s tires. A fight broke out, and the neighbors beat Johnson to the ground before stabbing him multiple times.

What happened to Johnson is eerily reminiscent of some of the plot lines in Henson's show, "Empire."

Taraji P. Henson/Instagram

Johnson left behind Henson and their son, Marcell.

“His dad was murdered when Marcell was 9,” Henson says of her son. “He’s had to deal with life in a way that a lot of young kids haven’t yet.”

Johnson left behind Henson and their son, Marcell.

The neighbors were both convicted and sentenced to prison.

While that provided some sense of justice for Henson and her son, the convictions were only a small part of their uphill battle to find peace.

The neighbors were both convicted and sentenced to prison.

Taraji P. Henson/Instagram

For a long time, Henson struggled as a single mom to Marcell.

She was living on welfare at the time, and continued to pursue her acting career. It was difficult, but she persevered.

For a long time, Henson struggled as a single mom to Marcell.

Marcell was just nine years old at the time.

“We would sit and weep about it,” Henson said. “Do I mourn for him? Absolutely. I wish my son had his dad.”

Marcell was just nine years old at the time.

Taraji P. Henson/Instagram

But there's a part of Henson that believes everything happens for a reason.

“But sometimes things line up and they have to happen and we don’t know why,” she said.

But there's a part of Henson that believes everything happens for a reason.

Taraji P. Henson/Instagram

And in a lot of ways, it feels like her real-life experiences inform her work.

Her character on “Empire,” as well as “Hustle & Flow” had to deal with real-life pain and violence — something tells us that in order to act those parts, Henson is drawing on something real.

And in a lot of ways, it feels like her real-life experiences inform her work.

Taraji P. Henson/Instagram

And because of their tragedy, Henson and her son have an extraordinarily strong bond.

Marcell is 20 years old now, and he’s about to transfer to Howard University — the same place where his mom went, and where his life began.

And because of their tragedy, Henson and her son have an extraordinarily strong bond.

Jason Kempin/Getty Images

As far as Henson, she's definitely overcome the odds.

Things aren’t easy for black actresses in Hollywood, but it’s safe to say that Henson’s career is on fire.

As far as Henson, she's definitely overcome the odds.

Taraji P. Henson/Instagram

While her son works hard at college, Henson is working her career.

Her role as Cookie Lyons on “Empire” is definitely one of the most entertaining things to watch on TV — and she’s not slowing down.

While her son works hard at college, Henson is working her career.

Taraji P. Henson/Instagram

Henson realizes just how far she's come.

“This journey is not over,” she said in an interview about her career. “I’ve come a long way from ‘Aye, that’s that girl from Baby Boy’ to now people know how to pronounce my name.”

Henson realizes just how far she's come.

Taraji P. Henson/Instagram

And, with her usual hilarious candor, Henson also explained her approach to life from here on out.

“I’m just scratching the surface. For whatever reason, God gave me this life, and I’m not gon’ f–k it up.”

And, with her usual hilarious candor, Henson also explained her approach to life from here on out.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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