Sharon Stone’s new autobiography, The Beauty of Living Twice, begins in the hospital where she almost died from a massive stroke in 2001. “When you face death, you look at everything all over again — life, hope, dreams,” says Sharon. “I’ve come to terms with death and know it awaits so I am going to do as much as possible with my time.”

Sharon, 63, traces her life, from her rural Pennsylvania upbringing to her rise to fame and starring role in 1992’s thriller, Basic Instinct, to her stroke and its horrific aftermath. “There was about a five percent chance of me living,” she says of the brain hemorrhage that left her with impaired speech, hearing and mobility. “My whole life was wiped out.”

Recovery became an uphill battle. “It took me about seven years,” says Sharon, who also endured a 2003 divorce from her second husband, Phil Bronstein. “[From] trying to keep custody of my son to just functioning — to be able to work at all,” she recalls. “I had to re-mortgage my house. I lost everything I had.”

Sharon Stone Kids
Leire P J/DYDPPA/Shutterstock

Sharon recovered, deriving strength from her relationships with her sons, Roan, 20, whom she shares with Bronstein, and Laird, 15, and Quinn, 14, whom she adopted as a single mom. “The most badass thing I’ve ever done is pick myself up and move forward and continue with my goal as a parent to raise my children well,” she says.

Financially, she was aided by a 2005 contract with Dior. A year later, she starred in Basic Instinct 2 and finally earned the same amount Michael Douglas made for the first film. “I just was so blessed that I got to live. And then I was equally if not more blessed that I got to learn to work around my brain damage,” says Sharon, who is proud to share her trials in this unflinching new memoir. “I have learned to forgive the unforgivable,” she says. “My hope is that I share my journey, and you will learn the same.”

For more on this story, pick up the latest issue of Closer magazine, on newsstands now.