Oprah Revealed the Name of the Baby She Lost When She Was Just 14 Years Old

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May 26 2023, Published 11:46 a.m. ET

Oprah Winfrey at 2023 CinemaCon
Source: Getty Images

One of the things that made Oprah Winfrey so hugely appealing to audiences is that, in spite of her enormous success, she had had a truly difficult life. Oprah has been open about the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of family members at a young age, and she has occasionally discussed the baby she had when she was just 14 years old.

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Years after the story became public, Oprah provided additional details about the baby, including his name, which led many to wonder what happened to him. Here's what we know.

Oprah Winfrey on the red carpet in white.
Source: Getty Images
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What happened to Oprah's baby?

Oprah gave birth to a baby boy when she was just 14 years old. After several weeks in the hospital, the baby died, although the exact cause of the baby's death is not known.

The news that Oprah had had a baby was first unveiled in 1990 when one of her relatives revealed the story.

Since then, she's discussed the devastation she felt in the aftermath of the baby's death.

"I took to my bed and cried for three days. I felt devastated. Wounded. Betrayed. How could this person do this to me?" she wrote in an issue of O Magazine in 2007.

Oprah also added that, before people knew about her baby, she worried that the news would bring backlash and ridicule.

"I imagined that every person on the street was going to point their finger at me and scream, 'Pregnant at 14, you wicked girl … expelled!'" she explained.

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Ultimately, though, it helped set her free.

"And I soon realized that having the secret out was liberating," she wrote at the time. "What I learned for sure was that holding the shame was the greatest burden of all."

Oprah discussed her son again in 2015, and she revealed that she had decided to give him a name.

What name did Oprah give her baby?

During an event at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia, where she was speaking in late 2015, Oprah discussed her tragic past.

"I did an interview with a reporter before I came to Australia and she said you should name the baby son who died," the magnate explained.

"So I have named him; I had a little boy named Canaan," she continued. "I did have a son. And I named him Canaan because Canaan means new land, new life."

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Oprah also discussed the assaults she had experienced, saying, "I was raped at 9 years old by a cousin, then again by another family member, and another family member."

It's clearly an experience that still informs the way she moves through the world, even as she's found enormous success in the decades since.

That kind of trauma never truly leaves a person, and Oprah has always been willing to acknowledge her own pain. It's part of the reason she's so beloved among so many people. The pain she feels can become her audience's pain too, and vice versa.

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