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
October 29, 2013
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.Can Lance Armstrong Save OWN?
January 14, 2013
After a hard-luck few years, the pro-wrestling pioneer is re-entering the ring with a big adult-film release.From Wrestling to Porn
June 28, 2011
It was a hard-luck symposium, of course; but there was more to it than just a panhandle touch.Shorty McCabe
I found somebody who listened sympathetically to my hard-luck story.Paris Vistas
Helen Davenport Gibbons
I often think of it when some man comes to me with a hard-luck story.Saturday's Child
He'd been known as a hard-luck man as far back as he could remember.The Wealth of Echindul
Noel Miller Loomis
I attribute the fact that Yale only had five points to two hard-luck facts.Football Days
William H. Edwards