Will, born William James Adams in East Los Angeles, stood in line waiting for his first welfare payment at age 20 with his girlfriend and mother Debra when he had an epiphany about how he wanted to live his life. ''Nah, this ain't right. This ain't how it's supposed to be. Let's go home," he remembers telling the two women. When his girlfriend asked how they would survive, he answered, ''Don't worry about it, baby. It's going to be all right.''
Will went on to reveal that his bandmates also struggled to get by until BEP got their big break. ''Apl [apl.de.ap] was homeless pretty much, Taboo was working at Disneyland picking up horse s--- and I was always trying to work in someone's studio.''
The Peas frontman, now 37, admitted he promised his mother he'd make it big someday and move her out of their low-income neighborhood. ''I told my mom, 'One day I'm going to buy you a house.' To which she replied, 'Don't you be making promises you can't keep.'" But will.i.am did keep his promise, and hopes his story of triumph will inspire his young fans to work hard to achieve their dreams. ''Hopefully me moving the whole family out is an inspiration to new young ones that they can do even better than that.''