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26 Athletes, Celebrities and Famous People With ADHD

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famous people with adhd

For anyone concerned that a learning disability in school may cause a difficulty later in life, it’s helpful to know that many celebrities and famous people with ADHD faced the same challenges when they were younger and successfully overcame a similar struggle.

Whenever a diagnosis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is mentioned, most people associate the condition with children for understandable reasons.

The average age of ADHD onset is about 6 years old and it’s one of the most common childhood mental health disorders today according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

That said, it’s not uncommon for people with ADHD to grow up without ever receiving a diagnosis, only to discover later in life that the disorder has been a root cause for some of their adversity.

In fact, it’s common enough that many athletes, celebrities, and other famous people with ADHD have been open about their struggles.

ADHD symptoms make it a challenge to stay focused or pay attention and often cause problems regulating behavior and controlling mood. The disorder may sometimes lead to bouts of near-manic energy as well.

Research suggests that an estimated 14 million adults, around 4.4 percent of the population, deal with the symptoms of ADHD on a daily basis.

Adults and young people with the condition are sometimes likely to self-medicate their symptoms with drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, those with untreated or undiagnosed ADHD often develop substance use disorders alongside the condition.

The combination of substance addiction and ADHD is referred to as a co-occurring disorder requiring dual diagnosis treatment. Both issues must be treated at the same time for people to make a full recovery from both conditions.

However, the mere fact that high profile athletes, celebrities and famous people with ADHD have been able to cope with the disorder and still lead productive and fulfilling lives should be a source of inspiration for anyone seeking treatment for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

celebrities and famous people with adhd

Here are 9 Celebrities and Famous People With ADHD

1. Bill Gates

The recent divorce announcement of Bill Gates from his longtime wife, Melinda French Gates, has certainly made news, especially as it concerns the couple’s estimated net worth of $126 billion and the effect it will have on the philanthropic Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Whatever the reasons for the rift, Gates has admitted in the past that he’s struggled with symptoms of ADHD and still has trouble learning new things. Most people wouldn’t know it though, as he is an early computer pioneer and one of the richest men in the world.

2. Simone Biles

Simone Biles is the most decorated gymnast in history and is in the news right now for being the first woman to ever perform the Yurchenko double pike, an extremely dangerous maneuver that most gymnasts won’t even train for.

She’s so good at what she does, a controversy about judges punishing Biles for her incredible feats is now emerging.

The record-breaking gymnast told ESPN that she has ADHD and has taken medication for it since she was a child, adding that she’s not ashamed of it nor is she embarrassed to let anyone know.

3. Michael Phelps

While we’re talking about athletes, U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps, who is the most decorated Olympian ever, has had very public struggles with ADHD and substance abuse. In 2014, Phelps was arrested for DUI and attended rehab after the incident.

Two years later, in an interview with USA Today, the swimmer said, “I sent myself down a downward spiral. I think it was more of a sign than anything else that I had to get something under control.”

4. Terry Bradshaw

Sticking with the theme of athletes for just a moment, Terry Bradshaw is a four-time Super Bowl champion turned professional sports commentator. The Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback admitted in his autobiography that not only has he struggled with ADHD, but has also battled a mood disorder.

Bradshaw was inducted into the hall of fame in 1989, despite his diagnoses.

5. Solange Knowles

Sister to Beyonce, a member of Destiny’s Child and fierce, over-achieving musical artist all on her own, Solange Knowles says she was diagnosed with ADHD twice, but didn’t believe it the first time.

The musician has since become an advocate for people that struggle with the condition, especially because of the low rate of diagnosis in Black children and the problematic symptoms being misunderstood and leading to a school-to-prison pipeline.

6. Will.i.am

Music, according to seven-time Grammy Award winner, Will.i.am, is one way in which he’s actually channeled the symptoms of his ADHD.

The legendary producer and recording artist has said that creating music helps him stay focused and bring control to his thoughts.

7. Adam Levine

Maroon 5 front-man and a vocal coach on the hit TV show The Voice for 16 seasons, Adam Levine was diagnosed with ADHD as a child, but it wasn’t until adulthood that the singer said his symptoms became unbearable and, at times, incapacitating.

When recording music grew nearly impossible for Levine, the singer knew it was time to get help. He has since been very open and vocal about supporting people with ADHD and encouraging them to get the help they need.

8. Paris Hilton

Whether being infamous or a famous person with ADHD, it doesn’t really matter. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder can affect anyone, even the socialite and hotel heiress Paris Hilton.

In a previous interview with Larry King, Hilton said she was diagnosed with the disorder as a child and continues to take medication for it to this day.

9. Justin Timberlake

Being in the spotlight for so long can make anyone a bit reticent to talk openly about their struggles, for fear of criticism or simply wanting some aspects of their life to remain private.

After all, Justin Timberlake got his start with the “Mickey Mouse Club” as a child, went on to the mega-boy band N’SYNC, and then transitioned into an amazing solo artist. He even does movies from time to time.

In a 2008 interview with Collider, Timberlake admitted to suffering with both ADHD and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). “You try living with that,” Timberlake quipped.

Other Celebrities and Famous People With ADHD

The list of celebrities and famous people with ADHD is not limited to those mentioned above. They may be some of the most vocal about living with the disorder, but there are many others who have also found much success in his or her adult life.

Athletes, actors, musicians, and even astronauts have realized great accomplishments despite living with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Here are 17 more famous people with ADHD:

  • Britney Spears – Musician
  • Channing Tatum – Actor
  • Howie Mandel – Comedian and TV Host
  • Ty Pennington – TV Host
  • James Carville – Political Media Personality
  • Emma Watson – Actor
  • Carrie Underwood – Musician
  • Liv Tyler – Actor
  • Shaquille O’Neal – Athlete
  • Zooey Deschanel – Actor and Musician
  • Ryan Gosling – Actor
  • Glenn Beck – TV and Radio Personality
  • Russell Brand – Actor and Comedian
  • Jamie Oliver – Celebrity Chef
  • Pete Rose – Athlete
  • Katherine Ellison – Author
  • Scott Kelly – Astronaut

This is an impressive list of famous people and celebrities with ADHD who have proven it is possible to thrive in life despite the challenges of a mental health disorder.

They should serve as an inspiration for others who have been diagnosed with ADHD and fear it may hold them back in life.

Photo Credits:

Simone Biles by Agencia Brasil Fotografias
Michael Phelps by Agencia Brasil Fotografias
Solange Knowles by magicube77 (shay)
Adam Levine bygashleygoh
Paris Hilton by Gil Zetbase
Justin Timberlake by Gage Skidmore

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