Tragic Details About The Cast Of Teen Mom

This article contains discussions of suicide, domestic abuse, sexual abuse, and addiction.

MTV launched "Teen Mom" in 2009 as a response to the success of their reality show, "16 and Pregnant." The series was so popular that it kicked off several other spinoffs, like "Teen Mom 2," "Teen Mom: Young and Pregnant," and, of course, "Teen Mom OG." There's really no shortage of material for fans. While the franchise never stops coming up with new ideas, it's the show's key players and their stories that keep fans so invested. There are so many moments that make us love the "Teen Mom" cast, but there is also tons of drama and controversy that causes endless backlash. Since the show chronicles the personal lives of each star, we've gotten to know a lot about the good and the bad going on in their lives. 

Jenelle Evans is one such star who has stayed in the spotlight for years. While a lot of the media attention surrounding her has followed her messy feud with her mom, her relationship with husband, David Eason likewise brought with it a surreal amount of negative attention. But there are so many other cast members too, like Amber Portwood, Maci Bookout, Catelynn Lowell, and Tyler Baltierra, whose lives have continued to play out in public. As the tragic details of the cast of "Teen Mom" prove, they've all faced major things and gone through intense struggles. The majority have thankfully come out the other side.

Amber Portwood's custody battle

Amber Portwood and ex, Andrew Glennon, have had a bumpy relationship, and one that has been heavily chronicled on "Teen Mom." In May 2018, the couple welcomed their son, James to the world. A year later, shortly after his first birthday, the couple ended up having a huge fight and she was arrested for domestic battery afterward, per People. As reported by TMZ, Glennon locked himself in a room with James, while Portwood hit the door with a machete in a bid to open it. The home's security cameras caught snippets of the incident.

The couple broke up shortly after and what followed was a heated custody battle. According to The Sun, in October 2021, Glennon requested that his ex provide a drug test and accused her of misusing drugs during pregnancy and subsequent childcare duties. The outlet noted that Portwood had struggled with drug addiction in the past. Nine months later, Amber lost custody of James

Portwood has seemingly made a concerted effort to regain custody of James since then. "I've worked so hard to better myself and improve my relationships with my children," she said in a statement to Us Weekly. "While I've always been candid about my past substance abuse and struggles with mental illness, a person should have the chance to redeem themselves and not be tethered to their problems from the past ... I'll never stop fighting for my children who I love more than anything." It certainly sounds like a hopeful situation.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Amber Portwood's traumatic childhood

Like many other cast members of "Teen Mom," in 2022, Amber Portwood published a tell-all. Her memoir, "So, You're Crazy Too?" exposed some shocking truths about her childhood. "I first tried to kill myself when I was eleven years old," she wrote. "... The truth is, I don't know why I did it; I was probably too young to know." While Portwood tried to understand the reasons, she ultimately gave up, writing, "I just felt like I didn't want to live anymore. As I look back now, it is clear I was already suffering from mental illness." 

In light of this, the reality star admitted that she sought out relief through substances. "Self-medicating is very common in the world of the mentally ill," she wrote in her memoir. "When I was nine years old, I tried my first opioid and it was the best feeling in the world." Portwood noted that she had a quarter of OxyContin and that it soothed her mind. "After that, I did drugs on a pretty regular basis all through my adolescence," she added.

In the book, she also admitted that she joined a gang and helped them when they broke into houses, waiting outside and watching out for homeowners or cops. Apparently, she enjoyed the gang's company because she was craving a family connection. On an episode of "Teen Mom" from 2020 (via People), Portwood alleged that her dad was an abusive alcoholic. "At the end, with my father, I loved him to death, but in the beginning, I prayed for his death," she said. He died in 2014. 

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Tyler Baltierra's mental health struggles

Tyler Baltierra, the husband of Catelynn Lowell, has always been a fan favorite of "Teen Mom." That's likely because he's been such a constant feature of the show and also because he and Lowell have been together since middle school (wow!). While they are involved parents and, by all evidence, a seemingly happy couple, Baltierra has more recently opened up about his experiences with trauma. 

"I have struggled with depression since I was 11 years old when I attempted suicide," he told NEDA . "At that age, my dad was just sent back to prison for the second time and I was so used to having him around for a little bit and then all of a sudden, he was just gone again." He said that at the time, he believed that if he was truly lovable, his father would have stayed sober.

Further on in the interview, Baltierra divulged that he'd experienced molestation throughout his childhood. "The first time I was sexually abused was by my sister's friend, who is four years older than I am. I was only about nine," he shared. The next incident occurred three years later by another one of his sister's friends, who was about 16 at the time. The assaults made him feel isolated and ashamed — feelings that his male friends didn't understand.  "I wanted someone to acknowledge that it was wrong and help justify why I felt so guilty," he added.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Catelynn Lowell's traumatic childhood

It wasn't just her husband, Tyler Baltierra, who had a tough go as a kid, as Catelynn Lowell's mother experienced alcoholism all her life. In the couple's joint memoir, "Conquering Chaos," Lowell opened up about how she was often left to take care of things from such an early age that she can't remember exactly when her mom's addiction became evident. "I just know that for my whole life, for as long as I can remember, it was there. She'd drink too many beers, or there would be a party, and I would be the one watching the house to make sure everything was okay," she wrote. "There was always this burden on me to watch the house while she was too drunk, which felt like always," Lowell added.

With so much instability, Lowell ended up moving to Florida to live with her grandparents for a while. Although she got along with them, she was craving the comfort of conventional home life. "I was very angry and very depressed," she wrote. "Not having anywhere to go or a stable place to live was devastating." 

Lowell subsequently started leaning on marijuana to cope with the stress and the changes, the drug offering a chance to numb her feelings. In light of all of this, Lowell has begun her own sober journey. In April 2018, she jumped on Twitter to share, "Been sober for going on 5 months."

Farrah Abraham's tough years of loss

Farrah Abraham seems to always get a top spot on any lists about scandals involving the "Teen Mom" cast. While she's sometimes a target of censure, the MTV alum has gone through some harrowing experiences after becoming famous on "16 and Pregnant." In December 2008, her boyfriend, Derek Underwood, died in a car accident when he was 18 years old. At the time of his death, Abraham was eight months pregnant with their daughter, Sophia, who was born in January 2009. The trauma of losing the love of her life, and the reality that he never met his daughter, is something that the reality star has grappled with for years.

In February 2021, the former "Teen Mom" star jumped on Instagram Stories (via The Hollywood Gossip) and spoke about how hard his loss had impacted her. "Over the years, I've shared so much of my life when I have been deeply depressed, suicidal, probably mentally ill because of it," she said.  "And there's so much that I've learned about myself through my teens to my 20s ... I just share every year online, like this past year, it's been 12 years, going on 13, how loss feels. It's not pretty, it's not like you're gonna get over it." In December 2021, Abraham paid tribute to Underwood on the anniversary of his death via an Instagram Reel. "Your life has made a world of difference to mine and so many others," she wrote in the caption. 

Mackenzie McKee's mom died of breast cancer

In January 2018, Mackenzie McKee's mother, Angie Douthit, was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer, per The Sun. Just a few months later, the disease was also found in her lungs and bones. While Douthit was initially responsive to chemotherapy, she found out early in 2019 that it wasn't proving helpful and there were said to be as many as ten tumors in her brain. She died in December 2019, shortly after stopping her chemotherapy treatments. 

Following her death, McKee posted a touching tribute to her mom on Instagram. In a caption that accompanied a photo of her mother finishing the Diva Dash 5k race, the "Teen Mom" star wrote, "Momma [Angie Douthit] has crossed the finish line. She did not lose the battle, she won. She is healed and running in heaven in eternity." She finished the tribute by writing, "You were the glue that held me together. The one who always believed in me. Idk what I will do without you ... I will make you proud momma."

In an episode of "Teen Mom OG" (via The Sun), McKee had the heartbreaking task of telling her children – Gannon, Jaxie Taylor, and Broncs Weston with ex-husband Josh McKee — about their grandmother. "Nanny's not going to get to come home from the hospital, OK?" McKee explained to Gannon. "I think it's time for her to go to heaven." Certainly not an easy time for McKee and her family.

Jenelle Evans' turbulent relationship with David Eason

Jenelle Evans and David Eason seem to drum up more headlines than any other "Teen Mom" cast members, and they're not even on the show anymore. Per People, MTV dropped Eason because of homophobic material he allegedly posted on social media. Then, in April 2019, he shot and killed the family dog after it had purportedly acted aggressively toward their daughter, Ensley, per E! News

In light of all of this, MTV dropped Evans as well. In a statement given to Us Weekly, the network explained, "MTV ended its relationship with David Eason ... in February 2018 and has not filmed any new episodes of 'Teen Mom 2' with him since. Additionally, we have stopped filming with Jenelle Eason as of April 6, 2019, and have no plans to cover her story in the upcoming season." After getting them both booted from "Teen Mom," Eason faced other run-ins with the law, including an arrest for driving with a revoked license while in possession of an open container.

On social media, fans have pleaded with Evans to leave her husband, but she's remained by his side. In an Instagram Q&A series (via E! News), a fan asked the star, "After losing everything because of ur psycho hubby, was it [worth it]?" The former "Teen Mom" star responded, "I didn't lose anything. My family has found peace ... If you knew him, you'd probably like him too." She clearly sees something in him that few others do.

Evans also lost custody of her children

Fans of "Teen Mom" know all about Barbara Evans, mother to Jenelle Evans. The mother and daughter have long been fixtures of the MTV franchise with Barbara being the primary caregiver to Jenelle's eldest son, Jace, since 2010. According to People, Jenelle and her husband, David Eason, temporarily lost custody of all their children in 2019 after the shooting of their family dog. They lost parental rights to her son Jace, whom she shares with Andrew Lewis, son Kaiser, whom she shares with Nathan Griffith, and Ensley, whom she shares with Eason. Barbara then had custody of both Jace and Ensley. In a statement given to E! News, she said, "Of course, I would like for Jenelle to get them all back eventually, but certain things have to happen first."

While that particular custody battle resolved itself, Jenelle's relationship with Barb remained consistently fraught. On July 31, 2022, Jenelle posted a video of herself looking sad and pensive on Instagram, while phrases like, "Did you see what your mom said about you?," and "Why is your mom doing this?" appearing on the screen. "I have been the happiest [I've] ever been in my life," Jenelle wrote in the caption. "It sucks when none of your accomplishments are acknowledged ... especially by your own mom." She added the hashtag "Toxic Parents." As of March 2022, Jenelle was still seeking to take back full custody of Jace from her mom, according to The Sun.

Kailyn Lowry opens up about sexual assault

In her 2014 memoir, "Pride Over Pity," Kailyn Lowry revealed that she'd experienced multiple sexual assaults. Life&Style noted that the first time was when Lowry was in the eighth grade and it happened on the sidewalk. Lowry admitted that she didn't feel ready for her first sexual experience but felt concerns about keeping up with her friends in terms of experiences. While her friends walked on, she and her boyfriend at the time lagged behind. What followed was an allegedly non-consensual experience that left her bleeding. "I was too young to understand that I wasn't ready — physically or emotionally — for sex," she wrote

The second time it happened, the star was in the ninth grade and was dating someone new. "Toby wouldn't take no for an answer," Lowry wrote (via Radar Online). "I didn't want to sleep with him, but he persisted ... I believed Toby loved me, so I decided I could give him this one thing as long as he wore a condom." Lowry ended up pregnant from the experience. However, she wrote that her mother, Suzi Irwin, insisted that she have an abortion. She was 16. "It felt as though they had taken every fiber of my being ... I felt a mother's grief," she wrote of the experience (via Radar). 

When she became pregnant again at 17, she could only consider keeping the child. Following the birth of her son, Isaac, she alleged that a drunk friend had also raped her in her own home, per Radar. 

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Her traumatic domestic abuse case

Kailyn Lowry has openly discussed what it's like to co-parent her four children with three different fathers. Lowry has Isaac, whom she shares with Jo Rivera, Lincoln, with Javi Marroquin, and youngest sons Lux and Creed, with ex Chris Lopez, according to In Touch.

During a reunion episode for "Teen Mom 2," Lowry told Dr. Drew Pinsky that she had started therapy because of an alleged incident involving Lopez. "Chris almost killed me in October 2019 by domestic violence," she said (via The Sun). When Pinsky and co-host Nessa Diab looked surprised, she added, "I just haven't figured out the right time or way to tell my whole story."

Lopez himself was about to make an appearance during the reunion. Before he did, Lowry said, "He knows what he did. It is what it is." However, when he came to the reunion, he was more casual about the affair, stating, "There's been abuse on both sides." When Pinsky asked him if he had been violent towards Lowry or injured her, Lopez responded, "Injure? No. She's making it seem like I literally beat her ... I never beat her." Later, during a Q&A on Instagram (via The Ashley's Reality Roundup), a fan asked the reality star, "How did you feel about Chris minimizing what he did to you on the reunion?" Lowry replied, "It's actually really sickening. That night changed my life."

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Lowry is estranged from her mother

Kailyn Lowry has a difficult relationship with her mother, Suzi Irwin, and it's been that way since childhood, largely because of her mom's addiction. "As far as I could tell growing up, the best of my mom's love went into the bottles she drowned herself in day in and day out," she wrote in her memoir "Hustle and Heart." "The love that should have been mine went into bottles and empty cans that were tossed in the trash and carried away. I was left with whatever spilled, and it wasn't enough."

In 2021, during an Instagram Q&A with fans (via Monsters and Critics), someone asked Lowry, "What was the 'final straw' that made you cut your mom off?" The "Teen Mom 2" star responded, "There was no final straw. I was just tired [and] I knew if I had any chance at personal growth [and] being a good mom I had to cut off the dead weight."

She wasn't kidding about that. In an episode of her podcast, "Baby Mamas No Drama" (via The U.S. Sun) Lowry spoke with Vee Rivera and said that she wasn't even aware of where her mother was living. Stating that she did some snooping and had received some information from fans regarding her mom's whereabouts. Regardless, Lowry has seemingly closed the chapter on her time with her mom, stating, "I changed my phone number so she would never be able to call me now." 

Jade Cline's difficult relationship with both of her parents

For Jade Cline, family has been a complicated phenomenon her whole life. On an episode of the podcast "Coffee Convos," she spoke on the topic with other "Teen Mom" stars including Kailyn Lowry, co-host Lindsie Chrisley, and guests Tyler Baltierra and Catelynn Lowell.

"Both of my parents were just incarcerated this last week," Cline admitted. "They've been strung out for so long. They're like binge addicts." The star added that she has a complicated relationship with her respective fathers, sharing that her biological dad committed suicide when she was six months old and that she no longer has a connection with her stepfather due to his addiction. Ultimately, her upbringing has informed the way that she chooses to parent. "I never want to put my family through that," she said. "I never want to be homeless. We were homeless forever. We lived in people's cars and hotels. I would still go to school and act like nothing is wrong."

However, Cline will still defend her parents when necessary. Per The Sun, in an episode of "Teen Mom 2," the star's mom was shown struggling to fulfill a painkiller prescription on her daughter's behalf, following Cline's recovery from plastic surgery. On the star's Instagram Stories (via The Ashley's Reality Roundup), a fan voiced the theory that her mom had stolen the prescription for herself. Cline wasn't impressed, replying, "Uhm no lol my mom wouldn't take my pills and use them."

Leah Messer's harrowing teen years

Leah Messer went through a tough childhood and teen years. In an interview with People, the "Teen Mom" star discussed how she was sexually abused by her childhood babysitter. She was about 5 years old and kept it a secret. "My mom didn't understand why I screamed every time I went to the babysitter's house," Messer explained. 

In her memoir, "Hope, Grace, & Faith," Messer also alleged that her mother, Dawn Spears, forced her to have sex when she was thirteen. She wrote that her mom brought an empty bottle to where she was hanging out with friends and encouraged them to play Spin the Bottle. Her mom moved the receptacle so that it was pointing at a guy in the group named Mike. "The next thing I knew I was in the room with Mike and my mom was holding the door shut from the other side so I couldn't get out," she wrote (via The Ashley's Reality Roundup). "... I didn't want to kiss Mike, much less have sex with him, but that's exactly what happened." 

Thankfully, Messer found healing through therapy and in the act of writing. "At the end of the day, if I was going to own my story and own my truth, I was going to own it all," she told People, adding that she and her mom's relationship had healed following the book's release. She certainly didn't hold anything back when she wrote her story.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Maci Bookout was caught up in a shootout

On October 30, 2020, Maci Bookout stopped at a gas station in Chattanooga, Tennessee when she found herself caught in the crossfire of a shootout. According to Pop Culture, the incident was believed to be an altercation between a police officer and a man wanted for a hit and run. As reported by Local 3 News, the individual, Brandon Keith Davis, shot at the officer and the officer fired back. Davis later died from the gun wounds.

Bookout was reportedly present while this was happening, and she ran to the bathroom for cover. Instead of calling for help, she phoned her husband, Taylor McKinney. "I didn't call 911 first. I called Taylor," she said in a clip from "Teen Mom OG" (via Monsters and Critics Reality). "But I called him because, to be honest, I didn't think I was going to survive." McKinney quickly came to the scene and later, asked producers to stop filming Bookout.

Bookout subsequently experienced PTSD symptoms following the incident and it became a huge part of her storyline for Season 9. A month after the shooting, she shared an Instagram post that discreetly alerted fans as to what she was going through. The image she shared stated, "Sending love to everyone headline from things they don't discuss with anyone." Shortly after, she posted a poem about fortitude by Lana Rafaela with the caption, "You're brave," accompanied by a heart emoji.