Famous Chicagoans share their favorite memories of the city

Notable natives share their best childhood memories.

Stars: They're just like us! Not really. But a lot of them grew up here, and we've collected dozens of their funny, touching or just plain unbelievable childhood stories.


The South Side native recalls his first intro to hip-hop and a stint as a Bulls ball boy.

Mavis Staples

The gospel giant once sneaked secular music through a blues club’s door.

R.J. and Jerrod Melman

The LEYE heirs and Paris Club bosses recall growing up in the restaurant business.

Lar Lubovitch

The Tony Award–winning choreographer remembers playing a corpse for Ruth Page.

Che “Rhymefest” Smith

The hip-hop artist and aspiring politico remembers Regal talent shows and artists’ communities.

Michael Mann

The Public Enemies director’s works lift imagery and story lines from his Chicago childhood.

Dave Eggers

The best-selling author and kids’ writing mentor experienced his own little Woodstock on the North Shore.

Jim Jacobs

The writer/composer revisits the Taft High memories that inspired him to write the original Grease.

Rahm Emanuel

The mayor-elect takes a trip down memory lane (also known as State Street).

Dan Savage

The “Savage Love” columnist took refuge in “arty-farty” movie palaces.

Doug Sohn

Greasy bags of fries and divey dog stands were big influences on Hot Doug’s owner.

Evan Lysacek

The Olympic gold-medalist figure skater remembers hitting the ice at Skate on State.

Mindy Segal

The pastry ace spent her teen years seeking out cool vintage finds and dancing to new wave.

Stuart Dybek

The author recalls the creepy haunts of Near South Side viaducts.

Victor Skrebneski

The pioneering fashion photographer remembers his first run-in with art.

Notable Chicagoans

We mined our Over & Out archives for some of our favorite personalities’ childhood stories.