Best Known For
Ice-T is best known for his raps about street life and violence, and his influence on the gangster rap genre.
A preview featuring Ice-T, Cheryl Tiegs, Ed Begley Jr. & Yancy Butler.
The young undiscovered Ice-T is pronounced dead at the scene of violent car collision.
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Born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1958, Ice-T lost his parents at a young age. After moving to south central Los Angeles to live with an aunt, he became involved with inner city crime and hustling. His talent for rhyme saved him from a life on the streets, and in 1987 he released his debut album, Rhyme Pays. In the 1990s, Ice-T became famous for his controversial political songs like "Cop Killer." The rapper also has a career as an actor,
I was so programmed into being a hustler that if I hadn't had a chance to rap, I'd either be dead or in jail—or I'd be rich, but I knew the odds were against it.
most notably playing a detective on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit since 2000.
The man who would become famous as Ice-T was born Tracy Marrow in Newark, New Jersey, on February 16, 1958. He grew up in Summit, New Jersey, with his parents. In his book Ice: A Memoir of Gangster Life and Redemption—From South Central to Hollywood, Ice-T says of his dad, "He was a working man, a quiet, blue-collar dude ... Despite the fact that Summit is predominantly white, I can't say there was overt prejudice in the town, at least not within the adult world as I observed it. All my father's friends, all the guys he worked with, were white working-class dudes. Lunch-bucket dudes. Black and white, they were all cool with one another."
When Ice-T was in third grade, his mother suddenly died of a heart attack. He says, "My mother was a very supportive and smart woman, and I know she cared about me, although she wasn't very affectionate toward me. I only have a few specific memories of her, vague and distant, like some grainy home movie, someplace in the back of my mind."
Just four years later, his dad also suffered a fatal heart attack. "I was still so young that the experiences of both of my parents' deaths are kind of blurred together in my mind. And being an only child, I was going through all of it in my own little bubble," says Ice-T.
After the death of his dad, Ice-T moved to South Central Los Angeles to live with his aunt. It was there that the sixth grader became involved in inner-city life that would define his career as a rapper and later give him the credibility to become a spokesman against gang violence. Despite disapproval from his friends, Ice-T managed to graduate from high school with good grades. Turning normal teenage delinquency on its head, he later admitted to "acting like I was ditching class when I was really ditching my friends so I could slip back to school."
Before beginning his rap career in the early 1980s, Ice-T spent four years in the United States Army, after which he returned to Los Angeles and took up a life as a self-styled hustler. Crime paid for a time, allowing Ice-T to take impromptu trips to the Bahamas and collect over 350 pairs of sneakers, but soon his addiction to the high life began to fade. In an interview, Ice-T recalled his breaking point: "I had a friend who I looked up to, 'cause he made more money than me. And he said, 'Yo, Ice, you got a chance. Do that rap thing.' And that word 'chance' messed up my mind. And I just gave up hustling completely."
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