Oprah Winfrey’s early years were chock-full of instability. It all began in rural Mississippi, where Winfrey lived with her maternal grandmother, Hattie Mae Lee. She was then shipped off to Wisconsin to live with her mom, Vernita Lee, when she was 6 years old. This move turned out to be the most dramatic of them all. “I suddenly land in a place that’s completely foreign to me. I don’t know anybody. I don’t really even know my mother,” she told the Huffington Post. “I walked into that space feeling completely alone and abandoned.”
Before she could get settled in Wisconsin, she was sent to live with her dad — or, rather, a man she presumed to be her dad — a coal miner named Vernon Lee, in Tennessee, before eventually returning to live with her mom once again.
The constant changes in her surroundings definitely took a toll on her, but she told the publication that it was her faith that helped her push through. “I grew up with an understanding that there was this God — all-knowing, all-powerful — who loved me,” she said. “The wonder of that, the magical mystery of that, is what carried me when I was separated from my grandmother and sent to live with my mother at 6 years old.”