Ronaldo grew up in a largely working class neighborhood

Ronaldo grew up in a largely working class neighborhood in a small tin-roofed home that overlooked the ocean. Ronaldo was introduced to the game of soccer through his dad, who worked as an equipment manager at a boy’s club.

His early life was shaped by hardship, as his father often drank too much. To help keep the children fed and maintain some financial stability, Ronaldo’s mother worked as a cook and cleaning person.

In 2005, when Ronaldo was playing for Manchester United, his father died from alcohol-related kidney problems; in 2007, his mother struggled with breast cancer. The former was especially hard for Ronaldo since he and his dad had been close.

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The young athlete had often pushed for his father to enter rehab and address his drinking. His father, however, never accepted the offer.

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By the time he was 10 years old, Ronaldo was already recognized as a phenomenon — a kid who ate, slept and drank soccer. “All he wanted to do as a boy was play football,” his godfather, Fernao Sousa, recalled for British reporters, adding, “He loved the game so much he’d miss meals or escape out of his bedroom window with a ball when he was supposed to be doing his homework.”