Ma Tianyu’s Dark Childhood Revealed

Ma Tianyu (馬天宇) seems to have it all. Ever since placing sixth in singing competition My Hero <加油好男兒> and voted the most popular contestant by online viewers, the 32-year-old has gradually risen in popularity, particularly following the dramas Swords of Legends <古劍奇譚> and Ice Fantasy <幻城>. Starring in his latest drama Secret of the Three Kingdoms <三國機密之潛龍在淵>, Tianyu is now considered to be as popular as Lu Han (鹿唅), Kris Wu (吳亦凡) and Li Yifeng (李易峰) in Mainland China. While it seems to be a smooth road for the successful actor and singer, there is in fact a much darker tale behind his boyish façade.

Tianyu lost his mother at the young age of five, during the Mid-Autumn festival. His mother had been ill and asked him to help her buy some medicine, but unfortunately passed away the following day. Her death was of no insignificance – it meant that each year during the Mid-Autumn festival, Tianyu would be sweeping his mother’s grave, while others celebrated with their families and loved ones. Later, an older Tianyu would also wonder whether it was the medicine that he had bought that had caused his mother’s death as part of her suicide plan.

Tianyu’s father was also absent for much of his childhood, having left the family after incurring one too many debts. Although they were reunited recently, this happiness did not last long, as his father passed away earlier this year from illness.

Tianyu and his two elder sisters were largely brought up by their aging grandfather. They also had a younger brother, but he was kidnapped by debt-collectors and was never seen again.

As the family was quite poor, Tianyu’s older sister gave up her opportunity to go to school to allow him to attend instead. Despite this, however, they could not afford the 3 RMB in school fees, and Tianyu eventually had to drop out too. Instead of studying, he did various manual labor jobs including working on a farm and digging sewerage ditches. When he was 16, he followed his uncle to Beijing with 70 cents and helped to sell food products, as well as working in bars. It was at this time that he came across a customer who suggested that he enter My Hero.

So what of the Ma Tianyu of today? It seems that despite discovering fame, Tianyu still demonstrates the same level of hard work and endurance now as he did when he was much younger and struggling financially. Having been in the entertainment industry for 10 years, he has saved around 200 million yuan, but he still rents his home and drives an affordable car. Instead of spending on himself, he has bought homes for both his older sisters. There may be many rumors floating around about him (be it his relationship status or his lack of friends in the industry), but one thing is for sure – he has worked hard to get to where he is and his dedication towards his family is something to be admired.

Ma Tianyu with his father and two sisters.
The house that Ma Tianyu lived in as a little boy.


This article is written by Jen for

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  1. He has experienced a very sad childhood. However, i am glad to hear that he has not forgotten his roots, since finding fame and now financially supports and cares for his family.

  2. I’m glad he doesn’t use his story to sell hype, I only know this story after he’s already very famous. This is what I would call admirable and hard working. Wish him all the best and more success.

    1. @davy
      Yes and that is what I admire about him. He does not milk his sad story but got famous due to his efforts and hard work.

  3. This is not new news as he talked about all this on a show awhile ago. He was crying while talking about all this. During that time, his father called in but he did not say much and made him even sadder. Even though his father was not the best father it was still his father. It is new news to me that his father passed away. His life is so tragic but yet he chose to stay strong and worked hard to get to where he is today. He is a good uncle to his niece and nephew too. He is truly an inspiration to everyone as he achieved success through his own efforts and never gave up. Everyone is so proud of him and I hope he experiences nothing but happiness from now on. In spite of all his success, he is still so humble and down to earth.

    I hope there will be a day that he can reunite with his little brother even though I know it may be close to impossible.

      1. @kidd
        I know but I feel if they still have fate, there will be a day that they will reunite again. I hope their fate is not over.

  4. really like his acting in secret of the three kingdoms! he looks really cute too. glad he is successful now! wish him look! looking forward to his future work!

  5. Another tragic part of his life was his mother died in her sleep while she was sleeping beside him….I can’t imagine a young child had to experienced that kind of heart breaking…..

    I love Ma TianYu since I first saw him in a drama with Wallace Huo and Liu ShiShi….He is a very nice person too based upon some of his reality show that I watched….

  6. Hope Ma Tian Yu finds happiness and after settling down his family in homes. Time for him to find a loyal snd devoted life partner who will cherish him and not for his fame and fortune. May his career blossom and enrich his life.

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