Martin Lawrence is an American actor and comedian who has starred in numerous Hollywood hits. He was born on April 16, 1965 to John and Chlora Lawrence. John Lawrence was enlisted in the U.S. military and serving in Frankfurt, Germany at the time so Martin was born there. He was named after the iconic civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. His parents divorced when he was 8 years old, and subsequently Lawrence rarely met with his father who was now working as a police officer. His mother worked several jobs to support herself and her children. He attended several schools including Thomas G. Pullen School of Creative and Performing Arts in Maryland. During his teenage, he was a skilled boxer and might even have turned pro if not for an eye injury which made him reconsider his decision.
Lawrence was a gifted comedian from an early age, and at the encouragement of one of his teachers, he attended an open mic night at a comedy club “The Improv”. Soon, he was accepted as a contestant on the television show “Star Search” which was a talent competition with different genres of entertainment. Lawrence made it to the finals but eventually lost. However, his impressive performance landed him another role, this time on the television sitcom “What’s Happening Now!!”. The show was cancelled shortly and Lawrence accepted a number of inconsequential roles before making his breakthrough in the Spike Lee film “Do the Right Thing”. This was soon followed by other concrete roles including “Boomerang”, a romantic comedy starring Eddie Murphy.
Lawrence was then selected to host the HBO television series “Def Comedy Jam” which featured several prominent future comedians such as Chris Tucker, Dave Chappelle and Bernie Mac. During this time, he started his own television series by the name of “Martin” which aired from 1992 to 1997 and went on to become such a huge success that it was single handedly responsible for boosting FOX TV’s ratings against NBC as the top network contender. Lawrence hosted the hit television show “Saturday Night Live” once but his humor was considered extremely crude by the executives and he was banned from the show for life. However, his ratings as a comedian continued to soar elsewhere.
When his show ended, Lawrence ventured into movies, including “Nothing to Lose”, “Life”, “Blue Streak”, “Bad Boys”, “Bad Boys 2”, “A Thin Line Between Love and Hate” and “Big Momma’s House”. Several of his films were blockbusters and he quickly became one of the highest paid entertainers, pocketing more than $10 million per film. His stream of hits continued with the sequel to “Big Momma’s House”, titled “Big Momma’s House 2” which grossed almost $140 million at the box office. The sequel to this came in 2011, titled “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son” but it was not as successful. In 2013, he announced plans to star in a comedy with Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor and comedian Kelsey Grammar, as well as the third movie in the “Bad Boys” series.
Lawrence has been married and divorced twice, and has three children from his two marriages. He has had several run ins with the law, including arrests for carrying a loaded gun on an airplane and charges of assault and harassment from one of his female co-stars, which was later settled out of court. He was once hospitalized for collapsing from heat exhaustion during which he almost died from an extremely high fever. Lawrence has been nominated for and received several awards and honors such as NAACP Image Award, Blockbuster Entertainment Award and MTV Movie Award.