Ice-T closeup.

“When I had my daughter I was like, man, I’m going to go to jail, I got to do something, and I went to an enlistment office. Next thing you know, I’m in the military, four years infantry.”

Now known as prominent actor and musician Ice-T, Tracy Marrow was born in Newark, New Jersey to Solomon and Alice Marrow. Ice-T’s mother died of a heart attack when he was in third grade. His father raised him on his own until he also passed away a few years later. The 12 year old Ice-T moved to live with various relatives until settling with an aunt in South Los Angeles. While in high school, Ice-T abstained from drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol, but did affiliate himself with members of the Crips. He read books by Iceberg Slim, and was able to quote lines to his friends. It was in high school that he began writing rhymes.

Right out of high school, Ice-T struggled to support his girlfriend and daughter. He decided to join the Army for the financial benefits, and served four years in the 25th Infantry Division. Early in his career, he was part of a small group that stole an infantry rug and subsequently deserted. After a month, once the rug had been recovered, Ice-T returned and received a non-judicial punishment which allowed him to complete Advanced Infantry Training.

During his deployment in Hawaii, Ice-T served as a squad leader at Schofield Barracks. According to his memoir, it was here that he purchased stereo equipment including turntables, a mixer, and speakers. At one point during his career, a sergeant told Ice-T that he served in the army because he couldn’t survive on his own in the civilian world. Despite the sergeant’s claim, Ice-T utilized his time in the army to built financial stability, hone his skills, and launch a career in the entertainment industry.

When Ice-T returned to the civilian world, he lived in Hollywood and made inroads into the hip-hop scene. His first major deal was sealed with Sire Records, but he quickly created his own label, Rhyme Syndicate. He went on to start a metal band, win a Grammy, and produce the controversial song “Cop Killer.” He later launched a successful career in film and television, most notably as detective Odafin Tutuola on “Law & Order: SVU.”

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