The 'Hannah Montana' star is all grown up and nominated for six Grammy Awards this year
The world watched Miley Cyrus grow up, from her youngest days by her father's side to her spotlit teen stardom and beyond.
The eight-time Grammy nominee was destined for success even before she nabbed the lead role on Hannah Montana, the Disney Channel series that kicked off her career. Growing up with her big family in Tennessee, she was already capturing hearts with the radiant grin that earned her the nickname "Smiley." Even once Cyrus dropped the "S" from her nickname and became the Miley Cyrus who went on to world domination, she never lost that infectious grin.
Take a look back at Miley Cyrus' younger years captured in her cutest throwback photos.
Born for Stardom
Cyrus has spent her entire life in the spotlight. She was born the same year her dad, Billy Ray Cyrus, released his chart-topping country single "Achy Breaky Heart." During her 2023 Hulu special Endless Summer Vacation: Continued (Backyard Sessions), the "Flowers" singer reflected on why she and her dad view fame in "wildly different" ways.
"My dad grew up the opposite of me. I grew up on a soundstage, like, in a house with a family that was super close and all lived under the same roof, and I grew up financially stable and emotionally stable, I think, in my relationships also," she said. "That’s something that my dad didn’t have."
Smiles for Miles
Born Destiny Hope Cyrus, her parents used to call her "Smiley" for her sunny disposition. The nickname was eventually shortened to Miley, and in 2008, the Tennessee native legally changed her full name to Miley Ray Cyrus, honoring her dad with a shared middle moniker.
All in the Family
The Grammy-nominated artist is one of six siblings. Her parents Billy Ray and Tish Cyrus — who divorced in 2022 — also share son Braison, 29, and youngest daughter Noah, 24. Tish is mom to Brandi, 36, and Trace, 34, whom Billy Ray adopted when they were kids, and the country crooner also welcomed 31-year-old son Christopher with a previous partner.
Cyrus and her little sister share an extra special bond, both pursuing a career in the music industry. Before coming into her own fame — Noah nabbed a Grammy nomination of her own for best new artist in 2021 — the youngest Cyrus sibling would guest star on episodes of Hannah Montana.
On Noah's birthday in 2021, Cyrus paid tribute to her little sis with a heartfelt Instagram post.
"I love you baby sister turned big sister. The day you were born I never knew that one day the roles would be reversed and you would be the one taking care of me," the "Wrecking Ball" singer wrote. "You lead me to making the hard but right decisions. You’ll have many more of those choices in your own life & I am here for you every step of the way. ✝️ love you always. Happy 21st."
Used to Be Young
Inspired by her emotional single "Used to Be Young," Cyrus decided to open up about the life that shaped her in a series of TikTok posts.
“Sometimes it feels like my life started when Hannah Montana was born,” she wrote in an Instagram caption teasing the video retrospectives. “But before Hannah there was Miley. My fantasy was to light up the world with laughter, music & iconic moments that last beyond my lifetime. Decades later I continue to fulfill my purpose because of the love provided by my fans."
Disney Channel Days
Though her life didn't start with her lead role as the titular teen pop sensation in Hannah Montana, Cyrus' music career did kick off there.
At just 13-years-old, Cyrus started playing Miley Stewart, a middle schooler living a double life as a pop star. But fiction and reality started to blend for Cyrus when she started to release music and tour as Hannah Montana.
The Voice Behind Hannah
The up-and-coming star recorded her first songs as Miley Cyrus in 2007, on a shared album with her on-screen alter ego.
"The smartest thing to do was to put it on a double disc so Hannah would be on the other side, because at the time I wasn't valued in the way that Hannah was," Cyrus explained in a reflective Tiktok video from her "Used to Be Young" series. "This was a way that we could help people put the two and two together that really the voice behind Hannah was always me."
Beyond sharing a name, Cyrus and her character also shared a dad! Billy Ray played former country rocker Robby Ray Stewart, a role that closely mirrored his actual career. The Hannah Montana cast also starred Jason Earles as Miley's brother Jackson, Emily Osment as her best friend Lilly and Mitchel Musso as her best friend Oliver.
Encouragement at Home
Even though Tish wasn't a part of Hannah Montana, Cyrus has shared that her mom was particularly supportive of her journey to stardom. In a September 2013 interview with Rolling Stone, the "We Can't Stop" singer said Tish could relate to her daughter's dreams, as she herself wanted to be a performer at one point.
“She danced ballet from the time she was three till she was 30, but she was very shy,” Cyrus told the publication. “She could never do this, so she wanted it for me. I get anxiety too, and she didn’t want my anxiety to ever stop me from doing it the way it stopped her.”
Best of Both Worlds
On the show's 15th anniversary, she showed Hannah some gratitude in a love letter addressed to her on-screen alter ego.
"Not a day goes by I forget where I came from. A building in Burbank, California with a room full of people with the power to fulfill my destiny. And that they did. They gave me you. The greatest gift a girl could ask for. I love you Hannah Montana," she wrote in the note posted on her social media.
Over the years, the former Disney star has treated her Instagram followers of cheeky photo dumps from her teen years. In March 2021, Cyrus shared some classic Y2K throwbacks, including this sunglassed snap of her pouty younger self chatting on the phone.
Cyrus might've been a household name when she was only 13, but her old selfies show that the multi-hyphenate talent wasn't so different from the typical teen.
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