His mother was the first victim of the Yorkshire Ripper, he ended up in prison, was discharged from the army and his sister killed herself.
But Richard McCann has turned his life around and become an international motivational speaker using his experience to help others.
Yesterday he gave 44 talks in one day across Leeds to raise money for charity - including one at the Yorkshire Evening Post offices.
The number 44 has significant relevance as it was the 44th week of the year in 1975 that Richard and older sister Sonia were woken by police, aged just five and seven, to be told “mum has been taken to heaven and you are not going to see her again.”
He later discovered that the night his mother, Wilma McCann, died aged 28, her killer, Peter Sutcliffe went home to his mother-in-law’s at 44, Tanton Crescent in Bradford.
Last Monday, the 20th anniversary of his release from Armley prison for drug offences, saw Mr McCann on a train to Leeds, doing a pop-up presentation on Facebook Live, when he was challenged by a follower to do 44 talks in 44 days.
The following day he popped into the Toast Love Coffee cafe in Harehills and got talking to the owner, who suggested he do a talk there. He decided then to do 44 in one day.
He wants to raise £4,044 for The Samaritans with donations from people who were present at his five minute talks.
He said: “You can’t tell what people might have gone through or what they can achieve, what they are prepared to do.
“One of the ways that has helped me overcome that start has been my attitude, my ‘I can attitude’. I can overcome challenges and I have had a few to deal with. Hopefully it will inspire people.” Mr McCann is now a married father-of-three and has written three books such as “Just A Boy” and a film version of his life story is currently under development with another book out later this year.