Hailie Jade Mathers Scott is hip-hop royalty thanks to her famous father, Eminem. Now a 21-year-old student at Michigan State University, she’s known the world over as the spark behind some of the rapper’s best-known songs—even performing guest vocals on a number of tracks. But while Em has been making headlines for nearly two decades, Hailie’s mother, Kim Scott, has mostly stayed out of the spotlight. In fact, the public perception of Scott has been largely shaped by Eminem’s less-than-complimentary lyrics, but her story is just as dramatic as one of Em’s verses.
Scott and her twin sister Dawn were born on Jan. 9, 1975 to Kathleen Sluck in Warren, Michigan. Little is known about her father, and it’s doubtful that she ever knew his identity as a child. The sisters ran away from home in 1988, allegedly to escape abuse from her alcoholic stepfather, and settled at a youth shelter outside of Detroit.
According to Eminem, the couple first crossed paths at a house party—he was 15 and known as Marshall Mathers then, while she was just 13. “I’m standing on top of their coffee table with my shirt off, with a Kangol on, mocking the words to LL Cool J’s ‘I’m Bad.’ And I turn around and she’s at the door smoking,” he later recalled.
It was a short time before the budding MC brought Scott home to stay at his house. “Marshall arrived home from school with a tall, sulky blonde girl,” his mother, Debbie Nelson, recalled in her 2008 memoir, My Son Marshall, My Son Eminem. “He introduced her as Kim Scott and said she needed a place to stay. I was happy to help out. Kim said she was 15 and I had no reason to doubt that. In truth, she was so cute and busty that she could have passed for 17.” It wasn’t until angry truant officers inquired about Scott’s extensive school absences that Nelson learned her actual age.
Though quiet at first, Scott gradually opened up to her new guardian. “[She said she] had no idea who their real father was, and claimed to have been sexually abused by her stepfather,” Nelson writes. “Now, as often happens with troubled children, Kim told some pretty tall tales….I looked on Kim as a challenge, someone I hoped I could give a better life to.”
An on-off relationship began to blossom between Eminem and Scott, and the two became school sweethearts. After Eminem dropped out of 9th grade, he took up odd jobs to support himself while he pursued his dream of a rap career. A frustrated Nelson threw the couple out, and they took up residence in a seedy neighborhood plagued by crime and crack cocaine. “The neighborhoods we lived in f—ing sucked,” Scott told Rolling Stone in 1999. “I went through four TVs and five VCRs in two years.” Robberies were so common that thieves would come in and fix themselves a sandwich. “He left the peanut butter, jelly — all the s— — out and didn’t steal nothing,” Eminem recalled. “But then he came back again and took everything but the couches and beds. The pillows, clothes, silverware — everything.”
Their fortunes didn’t improve when Scott unexpectedly became pregnant in 1995, giving birth to Hailie Jade Mathers on Christmas Day. For the sake of the newborn, they temporarily moved back in with Eminem’s mother, but the stay didn’t last long. “My mother did a lot of dope and s— — a lot of pills — so she had mood swings,” he continued in Rolling Stone. “She’d go to bed cool, then wake up like, ‘Motherf—ers, get out!’” (Nelson denied the claims to the publication. “I’ve never done drugs. Marshall was raised in a drug- and alcohol-free environment.”)
Eminem did his best to support his family, working overtime as a dishwasher at Gilbert’s Lodge restaurant for $5.50 an hour. “He didn’t want his daughter to grow up like he did, living from day to day and moving from week to week,” his boss, Mike Mazur, told Salon in 2000. But the pressure of fatherhood and his unfulfilled musical ambitions took a toll on their relationship, leading to a seemingly endless cycle of breakups and reconciliations.
It was during one of these splits that he developed his ultra-violent alter ego, Slim Shady. Slim would serve as a mouthpiece for the vitriolic “97 Bonnie & Clyde,” which enacted Scott’s murder with the help of an infant Hailie. Together, father and daughter dispose of the body in the ocean. For extra authenticity, Eminem brought Hailie to the studio to record a vocal part for the track. “I lied to Kim and told her I was taking Hailie to Chuck E. Cheese that day,” he remembered. “But I took her to the studio. When she found out I used our daughter to write a song about killing her, she f—ing blew. We had just got back together for a couple of weeks. Then I played her the song, and she bugged the f— out.” The track, included on The Slim Shady LP, didn’t exactly help their relationship, but it helped propel Eminem into the cultural stratosphere.
No matter how far they pushed each other, Scott and Eminem always managed to find their way back together. The rapper Proof, one of Eminem’s closest confidants, painted a vivid portrayal of their relationship in Rolling Stone. “One time we came home and Kim had thrown all his clothes on the lawn—which was, like, two pairs of pants and some gym shoes. So we stayed at my grandmother’s and Em’s like, ‘I’m leaving her, I’m never going back.’ Next day, he’s back with her. The love they got is so genuine, it’s ridiculous. He’s gonna end up marrying her. But there’s always gonna be conflict there.”
Proof was right on the money. The couple married on June 14, 1999, shortly before Eminem embarked on the Up In Smoke tour—his first major jaunt alongside hip-hop heavy hitters like Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. Still living in a mobile home previously occupied by Nelson, her husband’s moment in the spotlight had an adverse effect on Scott’s self-esteem. “When Marshall’s first tour started is when his ego just went ‘poof,’ ” she told Dr. Keith Ablow in 2007. “Like he was God, that’s what he thought. … I was just told that I should be grateful that he still talks to me, you know how many women throw themselves at him. And I just pretty much felt like a piece of crap.”
It was during one of these performances that she witnessed her husband singing “Kim,” an equally murderous sequel to “97 Bonnie & Clyde,” while punching a nude blow-up doll made in her likeness. For the new bride, it was just too much to bear. “Seeing the crowd’s response and everybody cheering, singing the words and laughing and it just felt like everyone was staring at me,” Scott told Ablow. “I knew that it was about me and that night I went home and I tried to commit suicide.” She slashed her wrists with razor blades in July 2000.
Around the same period, Eminem found Scott in the parking lot of a Michigan nightclub, reportedly kissing an acquaintance; the rapper, John Guerra. Scott insisted that the situation was innocent, but her enraged husband allegedly whipped Guerra with a 9mm pistol. Eminem was placed under arrest and Guerra filed a lawsuit. Scott’s divorce papers soon followed, and their split was finalized in 2001.
Scott began seeing a man named Eric Hatter, and she eventually gave birth to his daughter, named Whitney, in 2002. Their union wasn’t to last, either. Still drawn together by shared custody of Hailie, Scott and Eminem slowly began to rekindle their tumultuous relationship. Eminem raised Whitney as if she was his own blood, in addition to Dawn’s daughter, Alaina, whom they ultimately adopted. Eminem’s younger half-brother, Nate, also joined the brood.
Despite Eminem’s protestations that he would “rather have a baby through my penis than get married again,” they tied the knot a second time in 2006. “We decided on Jan. 14,” Scott told Dr. Ablow. “Marshall wanted to do it because it was our 15th year together from our original day we started going out.”
Once again, it was not to last. “Even on that day I said, ‘Let’s just go through the ceremony but not sign the marriage license.’ I was just afraid of what would happen if we had to go through a divorce, our kids. And then 41 days later, Feb. 25, Marshall left.”
Scott battled with depression and substance abuse in the years following their final split, bottoming out on Oct. 7, 2015. After consuming a fifth of Malibu rum and prescription pills, she intentionally drove her Cadillac Escalade into a telephone pole. “I sat at the end of a road where I knew that no one else but myself would get hurt,” she later revealed while speaking on 95.5 WKQI’s Mojo in the Morning. “Yes, I drank, I took pills and I hit the gas and aimed for a pole.” The crash resulted in a concussion, broken wrist and toes—but the intent was much worse. “I never expected to make it out of that alive. I apologized immensely. I did not even expect to make it through that, and I told [police] that I tried to do this on purpose.”
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Scott was booked on a DUI charge, for which she was ordered to pay a $900 fine, attend drug and alcohol counseling, and undergo a year-long probation. Though not romantically involved, she maintains a warm relationship with her two-time husband. “We’re really close friends, we’re just trying to raise our kids together and make it as normal for them as possible,” she on WKQI.
Tragedy struck again in January 2016, when her twin sister Dawn was found dead of a opiate drug overdose at age 41. Scott posted a heartfelt message on her obituary saying: “Dawn was my sweet, beautiful sister who lost her way. I kept a light lit for her hoping she’d find her way back to me. I miss her and love her more than anything I could ever say. I wish she was here so I could hug her and tell her I love her.”
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