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.
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.”