Misfortune, adversity, as in He's had a lot of hard luck in his day. This expression is also used in the phrase hard-luck story, a tale of one's misfortune that is related in order to get sympathy (or a donation). For example, We can't ignore her hard-luck story, even if you doubt that it's true. [Second half of 1500s] Also see tough break.
Examples from the Web for hard-luck
I probably need to be clear straight off that I am not presenting myself as any kind of hard-luck case.The Obamacare Ripoff: More Money for Less Insurance|David Frum|October 29, 2013|DAILY BEAST
This is a woman who came out of the kind of hard-luck story that she handles so well, and built an enormous media empire.
After a hard-luck few years, the pro-wrestling pioneer is re-entering the ring with a big adult-film release.
Good Lord, the hard-luck stories I hear every day of my life.The Shuttle|Frances Hodgson Burnett
I found Scotty in the engine room of a speedy gasoline craft and pried his mouth open with a hard-luck story.Fighting Byng|A. Stone
As Leonidas and me does the anti-famine act Homer unloads his hard-luck wheeze.Shorty McCabe|Sewell Ford
But there's no need going into my hard-luck story; it's like a lot of our stories here.Stories That End Well|Octave Thanet
Yes—for I don't want to hear any hard-luck stories now, when I'm eating.Lucky Pehr|August Strindberg