Dr. Phil Opens Up About Difficult Childhood And Teen Years: "Slept In A Cardboard Box"

Dr. Phil Opens Up About Difficult Childhood And Teen Years: "Slept In A Cardboard Box"

“We moved around a lot,” McGraw explained. “We moved every two or three years because my dad was an alcoholic.”

TV personality and author, Dr. Phil McGraw opened up about his difficult past, proving to be a source of motivation and inspiration for many. From a traumatic childhood to teenage years spent on the streets, he went through it all.  


Speaking on The Coach Mike Podcast hosted by celebrity life coach, Mike Bayer, McGraw opened up about the horrors of growing up in an abusive household, as per Amomama. He lived with an alcoholic father which made staying in a specific location next to impossible for them. “We moved around a lot,” McGraw explained. “We moved every two or three years because my dad was an alcoholic.” He spoke about how he used to avoid his father because of his disturbing behavior. McGraw said he “came and went through the bedroom window so I didn’t have to go through the house. It was total chaos,” along with “Yelling, screaming violence, domestic violence…”



The traumatic childhood was not the last of his troubles. His teenage and young adult years were equally, if not more, trying. Due to the irresponsibility of his alcoholic father, McGraw had to live in poverty. During a 2021 episode of Dr. Phil, the onscreen personality confessed that he had once been a homeless man. "I've been homeless. I've lived on the streets of Kansas City... I've slept in a cardboard box," he said on the show.

Life was never easy for McGraw, until he encountered Oprah Winfrey during his struggling years. The television icons first met in 1996 when some cattlemen sued Winfrey for defaming the beef industry on one of her shows. The talk show host had hired McGraw to counsel and assist her during the trial. Thankfully, in 1998, the author helped Winfrey win the case, and she rewarded him by transforming his life. McGraw became a regular face on The Oprah Winfrey Show, advising on relationships and life strategies. Four years later, McGraw launched his nationally syndicated talk show Dr. Phil. The series would eventually garner the highest ratings of any new syndicated program since The Oprah Winfrey Show launched, and it went on to bag more than 24 Emmy nominations.

McGraw saw not only his career but also his love life flourish. He has been happily married to his wife, Robin McGraw, for 45 years now.

Robin McGraw is a No. 1 New York Times Best Selling author who has books including Christmas In My Home and Heart, What's Age Got To Do With It, Living Your Healthiest and Happiest Life, and many more to her credit.

The couple’s relationship goes back to the 1970s, following Dr. Phil’s divorce from his first spouse, Debbie Higgins. The former couple was married from 1970 to 1973, and the Emmy Award winner was lucky enough to find love again with Robin shortly after their split. The lovebirds completely hit it off following their first date, nearly five decades ago. “I actually knew that first evening I sat and visited with him that he was The One,” the doting wife gushed in an exclusive interview with Closer in April 2018.



Unlike Dr. Phil, Robin had a fairytale childhood where her parents loved them till they grew old, and she expected the same for herself. Robin once confessed that she had special demands to achieve such marital bliss. "We talked about our needs, and I told him that I couldn't be married in a home with conflict. My mother and father never raised their voices, and my father adored my mother, so I had to know that I was loved and adored. I told him I don't live in a fairy tale, but I needed to be treated with dignity and respect," Robin explained. It is safe to say that McGraw has met all of Robin's special demands, considering the state of their happy long-term marriage.

GettyImages | Picture by Amy Sussman

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