He is eloquent, smart, attended some of the nation’s most prestigious colleges and has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. Now he's running for U.S. president.
Despite Ted Cruz's seemingly charmed life, there have been some dark chapters in it.
His father’s struggle with alcoholism is well known, for example. He left the family for a time when Cruz was a child, until he found religion and sobered up.
Less known is his older sister’s drug addiction, which ended in her death in 2011 of an overdose in a bedroom which had prescription drug bottles scattered about.
Before that Cruz tried to help his sister Miriam, according to the New York Times, meeting with her several times in some dangerous places where she stayed.
“I sometimes found it hard to reconcile the bright, fun and charismatic sister I adored with the person who would lie to me without hesitation and who stole money from her teenage brother to feed her various addictions,” Cruz wrote in his memoir.
In talking about his sister, one of two siblings from his father’s first marriage, Cruz has described frustrating, futile attempts to persuade her to seek help, even urging her to do so for her son’s sake.
Miriam, however, was defiant. She complained about her parents’ divorce and expressed hurt over a swim meet her father had not showed up to when she was growing up.
“You know as a family, you wonder, ‘Could I have done more?’” Cruz wondered in one speech. “Was there a way to pull her back? Was there a way to change the path she was on? Those are the questions you never fully answer.”
Cruz took looked after her son, Joseph, taking over a $20,000 credit card advance and enrolling him in Valley Forge Military Academy in Pennsylvania, the Times reported. Cruz said at a campaign speech that the Academy had helped give his nephew the structure and stability his life had sorely lacked.
Although Cruz declined to comment to the Times, he has mentioned Miriam on the campaign trail, sometimes citing her addiction as one reason he wants to control the borders and crack down on drug smugglers.
There were sober stretches for Miriam when she went to rehab and tried to straighten out her life. But time and again she relapsed.
A close friend of Miriam’s, Dawn Dyer, told the Times that her drug problems escalated after two car accidents left her addicted to pain medications.
“She was so sweet and full of life,” Dyer recalled.
Cruz has conceded that he was not always loving toward his sister, especially when she resisted efforts to help her.
“I wasn’t terribly understanding,” he wrote in his book. “I pointed out to her that our aunt, Tía Sonia, had experienced far worse — horrific things in a Cuban jail — and yet she raised our cousin Bibi as a single mom. I told Miriam she needed to stop wallowing in self-pity and do what was needed for her son.”
Cruz wrote that Miriam’s ex-husband and Joseph's father, Larry Maykopet, physically abused her – a claim Maykopet denied to the Times. Their relationship ended when he went to jail in 1987, and their divorce was finalized six years later.
Joseph was 25 when his mother died, and he was the one who found her body.
He filmed a video with his uncle in which he spoke about the difficulty of growing up the child of an addict and having to assume the role of parent.