Inside Keanu Reeves’ life – abandoned by dad, tragic deaths and school trouble

Hollywood star Keanu Reeves should feel on top of the world – and not just because today (September 2) is his birthday.

The actor's films are among the most successful in modern history, picking up several Oscars and grossing more than £3billion at the box office along the way.

His success has spanned more than four decades and he released the third instalment of the hugely popular Bill and Ted trilogy last year.

But despite his incredible longevity, wealth and profile, Reeves' private life tells a very different story.

The 57-year-old's life has been hit by a series of devastating tragedies and heartbreak, starting when he was still a tiny child.

Keanu was just three when his dad walked out and the last time the pair were together the John Wick star was just 11, the Mirror reports.

His dad was arrested for possession of heroin and cocaine, and sentenced to ten years in jail in 1994 before being released in 1996. They no longer speak.

Keanu told Rolling Stone in 2000: "The story with me and my dad’s pretty heavy. It’s full of pain and woe and f***ing loss and all that s***."

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His father, Samuel, has previously blamed himself for his fractured relationship with his son.

Samuel's last memory of his son is when he was still a child and playing with him in the surf of Hawaii's Big Island.

He said: "Occasionally, the spray would wash over the shelf, and the water would rush around our legs, and I would lift him up and hold him really tight.

"Then this big old wave really almost swept us right out. I caught my boy just as he was being sucked away by knee-deep water. I think Keanu was 11."

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Samuel says he has reached out to his son several times but has heard nothing back.

Although he didn't send a sympathy card when Keanu's baby was stillborn and admits he isn't pushing a reconciliation.

He explained: "I pretty much know what he's doing, but he's made it clear that he wants nothing to do with me."

Samuel has battled 20 years of heroin addiction and accepts his drifter lifestyle made a relationship with his children almost impossible, including Keanu's tragic sister, Kim, who has beaten leukaemia.

He said: "I'm embarrassed by it all. Keanu said my life was 'tragic' and, oh boy, does that hurt. Sad, yeah? I never figured things would end up this way. But he'll always be my boy."

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Keanu's difficult childhood ended with him leaving school without a diploma and in 1991, when she was just 25, Keanu's sister, Kim, was diagnosed with leukaemia.

But he got his big film break when he appeared in indie hit Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and it propelled him into the big league.

Then, in 1993, Keanu was devastated when his close friend River Phoenix died from a drug overdose.

The two had starred together in My Own Private Idaho and formed a tight bond.

Along with Bill and Ted co-star Alex Winter, Keanu describes River as "definitely my closest friends from that era."

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"We shared an artistic sensibility," he said. "River was just so down to earth, spiritual and a unique artist. Yeah, I miss him."

But he picked himself up and secured leading roles in some of the biggest films of the last few decades, including Speed and The Matrix.

Despite his huge success, family came first for the star who delayed filming on the two sequels to the Matrix to care for Kim.

A close friend told People at the time: "When she was in the hospital he was there with her all the time, sitting at her bedside, holding her hand. Sometimes, it’s almost like he doesn’t trust himself to have a relationship with anyone."

By 1999 Kim was in remission and Keanu seemed to have found his happy ending with actress Jennifer Syme.

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Their love story looked complete when Jennifer fell pregnant with the couple's child, a daughter, Ava.

But six months into the pregnancy their perfect family came crashing down when they discovered little Ava had died in her mum's womb.

She was delivered on Christmas Eve and Jennifer battled with post-natal depression in the face of the couple's devastating loss.

The overwhelming grief caused a huge rift in the relationship and the pair broke up, although were believed to be working towards a reconciliation when Jennifer was killed in a tragic car accident in 2001.

The 28-year-old died instantly when she was on her way to a party at Marilyn Manson's house.

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Heartbroken Keanu was one of Jennifer's pallbearers as she was laid to rest beside their daughter.

In 2006, he opened up about the agonising depths of his pain, telling Parade magazine: "Grief changes shape, but it never ends.

"People have a misconception that you can deal with it and say, ‘It’s gone, and I’m better’. They’re wrong. When the people you love are gone, you’re alone."

"I miss being a part of their lives and them being part of mine. I wonder what the present would be like if they were here – what we might have done together. I miss all the great things that will never be."

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His dreams of a settled life led to Keanu embracing a drifter lifestyle, moving from hotel to hotel and living out of suitcases.

In 2010 he joked: "Sounds quite bohemian and gypsy-like, doesn't it? "I'm down to one bag now, and smaller rooms in hotels."

But kindhearted Keanu was never the Hollywood star while staying in hotels.

One cleaner claimed he made sure he knew all the staff by name and learned important details about their lives.

He is said to have once given a hotel worker $100 so they could pay they rent and would often send notes to the chefs if he had enjoyed a meal.

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His Devil's Advocate co-star Charlize Theron admitted she was bemused by his living arrangements but sensed he was ready to change.

She told Rolling Stone: “When we started this movie, I asked if he was still living in a hotel, and he said, ‘No, I’m ready to put some roots down somewhere.’

"I think, joking, he said something like, ‘You know, the kid, the horse, the dog… and the wife.’ The wife last.

"I said, ‘I think you have it all turned around – you gotta get the wife first.’ But I think he has changed.

"Before, I think he liked the idea of living out of a suitcase… I think he’s now learned you can be a free spirit and have the other things as well.”

And it seems like Keanu has now finally put his dark past behind him, buying a home in the Hollywood Hills and finding love with artist, Alexandra Grant.

The couple first appeared on the red carpet together last year in a rare loved-up display for the famously private star.

However, his heartbreaking past has clearly left scars on the leading man.

In an interview with the Guardian in 2018 he said: "I don’t think you ever work through it. Grief and loss, those are things that don’t ever go away. They stay with you.

"It’s always with you, but like an ebb and flow."

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