Better known as Ice T, Tracy Lauren Morrow was born in Newark, New Jersey on the 16th February 1958 to Alice and Solomon Morrow. When he was in third grade, his mother died of a heart attack and his father engaged a housekeeper to help look after him. However, three years later his father followed suit and suffered the same fate as his mother, also dying of a heart attack which left him him an orphan.
After his father’ death he moved to Los Angeles to live with his aunt and it was whilst there his interest in rock music of the heavy metal kind was first sparked. His junior high school in Los Angeles was mainly made up of white students and it was not until he graduated from junior high and moved to Crenshaw high that he began mixing in earnest with other African American children.
He recalls sticking out like a sore thumb when he arrived at Crenshaw because he neither smoked, drank alcohol nor took drugs, whilst many of his fellow students were affiliated to gangs named ‘Blood’ and ‘Crisp’. Fights between the two factions was a daily occurrence and, although he was not actually a gang member he said he was affiliated to ‘Crisp’.
During his Senior High school years he began to read the novels of Robert Mapuin Beck III, pseudonym Iceberg Slim. (Beck was a reformed American pimp who wrote urban fiction). So taken by what Beck had to say that he began memorizing passages from his book which he recited to his friends and over time they began to call him ‘Ice T’. All of which took place long before the genre of rapping hit the American airwaves.
On his seventeenth birthday whilst still at school he received a check from the social security department in respect of his father’s passing. He moved away from home and rented an apartment for $90.00 per month. The money soon ran out causing him to turn to selling cannabis and stealing car stereos to make a living. Around this time he became a father and was finding it hard to make ends meet so he decided to join the US army, mainly for the financial and social security benefits it offered. He was stationed in Hawaii with the 25th Division, where he remained for four years. It was whilst in the army that his interest in hip hop music developed.
After his discharged he returned to the US nothing much had changes. He was soon hustling once more and also turned his hand to robbing banks to supplement his income. He was never caught or did time, but recalls coming close to the extent that his co-robber took the rap for a crime they committed together and spent a number of in years in prison. He believes that the turning point in his life came when a close friend who had lived a life of crime and was wealthy because of it, told him he had a chance to make it big as a rapper, that he should ditch the life of crime and go for it. He took his advice and began to spend time honing his turntable skills and put his considerable skills as a disc jockey to good use, it was at this point began to use the stage name Ice T.
After years of working the clubs and making rap videos he released his first album in 1987 called ‘Rhymes pays’ which went gold, whilst his recording for the Dennis Hopper (Hollywood movie actor) film ‘Colors’, about the gang scene in Los Angeles also got him a lot of attention. By 1991 he was recognized as having a major role in the creation of gangsta incarnation of hip hop and had developed a giant reputation on the West Coast scene. He was charged with pushing musical boundaries when he released a Heavy Metal record with the band he helped put together, ‘Body Count’. As time went on his recording became more and more controversial and at one point he was accused of inciting violence against the police with the recording ‘Cop Killer. He pushed back against the criticism saying that he was simply making a commentary about police brutality.
During the years which followed he would release a number of hits, whilst collaborating with high profile bands such as ‘Black Sabbath’ and ‘Slayer’. He has diversified into numerous acting roles such as ‘New Jack City’, ‘Ricochet’, ‘Trespass’ and ‘Johnny Menmonic. He had a reality show and is also a regular on the very successful television series ‘Law and Order’: Special Victim Unit, in which he plays the streetwise character ‘Fin’.
Ice T had a daughter by his high school girlfriend and later a son by his first wife Darlene Ortiz from whom he was later divorced. In 2000 he married Nicole ‘Coco’ Austin a swimwear model and they now live in New Jersey. He openly discuss the facts of his life and says were it not for music he was well on the road to being a hustler and by now he would have either been dead or in jail.