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All about Oprah Winfrey's three siblings — including her long lost sister

The media mogul has lost two siblings - but gained a third

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 16: Oprah Winfrey speaks onstage during the 55th Annual NAACP Awards at the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall on March 16, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)© Kevin Winter
Bryony Gooch
US Writer
June 21, 2024
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Oprah Winfrey may be one of the most powerful women in media, and a billionaire, but her difficult upbringing is well known. She was born on January 29, 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi to Vernita Lee and Vernon Winfrey, their only child as Vernita was a single teenage mother. She famously grew up in poverty.

But Vernita welcomed two more children, Pat and Jeffrey, who tragically died in 2003 and 1989. 

Oprah is used to reuniting families, but never did she expect to have her own family reunion as she discovered in 2010 that her mother had a third child, a younger sister, whom she had placed for adoption at birth. She was reunited with Patricia in 2011.

oprah winfrey glaad awards© Getty Images
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 14: Oprah Winfrey poses backstage during the 35th GLAAD Media Awards - Los Angeles at The Beverly Hilton on March 14, 2024 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for GLAAD )

Here's everything you need to know about Oprah Winfrey's siblings


Oprah in 1978 © Getty Images
Oprah in 1978

Vernita gave birth to Oprah's sister Pat in 1959, while living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After being raised by her grandmother, she moved in with her mother and sporadically saw her siblings as she moved between her mom's and her dad's. As a teenager, she moved to live with Vernon full-time.

Pat would die in 2003 of causes related to cocaine addiction, aged 43. Oprah, who had a tumultuous relationship with her sister, would say in 2011: "My sister Pat, I did the best I could for her and many of you know, I had to put her through drug rehab twice, and when she came out, she just didn't survive it."


Oprah Winfrey during 9th Annual National Conference For Women at New York Hilton Hotel in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)© Ron Galella, Ltd.
Oprah's brother died in 1989

Not long after Vernita had Pat, she was pregnant with her son Jeffrey in 1960. While she didn't always get on with her brother, who died from AIDS in 1989, aged 29 years old, he inspired her.

"All the years of the Oprah show for me were about sharing stories that actually helped people be more of their authentic selves and I know that that is the truest form of what it means to be free," Winfrey said. "To have personal freedom. To be able to fully be who you are. To have the truest expression of yourself as a human being."

She added: "At the time, I didn't know how deeply my brother internalized the shame he felt about being gay. I wish he could have lived to witness these liberated times and be here with me tonight.


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In 2010, Oprah revealed on her show that she had discovered a long-lost sister that her mom gave up for adoption. Patricia was born in 1963 and grew up in foster care, and finally met Oprah in 2011.

She is a mom of two, having her first child, Aquarius, at the age of 17 - and another when she was aged 23. Having her own children encouraged her to track down her birth family - and to her utter surprise, she was related to Oprah.

Oprah reportedly bought her sister a $500,000 home in Wisconsin, taking care of her financially so she could go back to school. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2017.

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