Ice-T is a respected actor and musician in Hollywood with a career spanning almost four decades, but he felt lonely when his parents died at a young age.
Losing a parent is heartbreaking, but losing both during your teenage years and within four years is nothing short of tragic. Sadly, Tracy Marrow (best known as Ice-T) knows it firsthand.
Although he was surrounded by crime and gangs, he cleaned up his act and found a way out through music. Now, he is a respected entertainer and a family man.
Ice-T as Det. Odafin “Fin” Tutuola in “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” in August 2008 [left]. Ice-T and his son Tracy Jr. in 1991 [right] | Photo: Getty Images – Instagram.com/darleneog_ortiz
In March 1976, the “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” star welcomed his first child, LeTesha, with his high school sweetheart Adrienne. In November 1991, Ice-T’s longtime partner Darlene Ortiz gave birth to his second kid, Ice Tracy Marrow Jr.
The rapper found “the one” in swimsuit model Nicole Coco Austin. They tied the knot in 2002 and even worked together in the reality show “Ice Loves Coco.”
Coco Austin and Ice-T on January 28, 2018 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images
In 2015, Ice-T and Coco’s fans were glad to learn that she expected their first (and only) daughter. Chanel Nicole was born in November 2015, and she changed her dad’s parenting style.
Ice-T, who found inspiration for his stage name from author Robert “Iceberg Slim” Maupin Beck III, once admitted he had been Chanel’s more “conscious” parent than he ever was to LeTesha and Tracy Jr. He added that the main reason was time.
He didn’t cry when [his mother] died.
When LeTesha was born, he was still a high school student. When his son joined his brood, he established himself as a respected rapper and actor.
Ice-T pointed out that he couldn’t concentrate on his kids because he was focused “on survival.” Now that he finally has money, fame, and success, he can focus more on his family. He explained:
“We bring the baby home; she’s crying, I see her, they sleep with me every night. I’m really witnessing her grow every day, so I’m more conscious of it.”
Ice-T on February 15, 1993 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images
Even though Ice-T seemingly has it all – a big family, a successful career, and a loving wife – his road to success was filled with pain, hardships, and L.A.’s criminals.
Born in New Jersey in 1958, the rapper spent most of his childhood in Summit, a predominantly White area of New Jersey. He thought Tracy was a girl’s name and would go by Trey instead.
Unfortunately, he started facing tragedies very early when his mother, Alice, died of a heart attack. While Ice-T was just nine years old when she died, he described her as a supportive, intelligent, and beautiful woman who looked like Lena Horne or Dorothy Dandridge.
Since he was so young when Alice passed away, he has only “a few specific” memories of her, including the phrase she used to say a lot: “People are stupid.” He also remembers he didn’t cry when she died.
When Ice-T was about seven years old, he learned what race and racism were after his White friend didn’t invite another boy to his house because his skin was too dark.
Ice-T knew that he was Black, too, but he was confused because people still invited him and treated him like he is White. He was so confused that he told Alice about it, and she just said, “Honey, people are stupid.”
Ice-T in “Straight Up Steve Austin” in January 2021 | Photo: Getty Images
One year after Alice died, Ice-T’s dad (who raised him as a single dad) got him a bicycle as a Christmas present, but he left it unattended, and it was stolen.
He then started stealing bicycle parts and built one for himself. Months later, Ice-T had three or four “weird-looking” bikes that he had made with stolen parts.
Ice-T on November 14, 2018 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images
The rapper admitted that he was not lonely growing up, but he felt alone when Alice died. However, he felt “truly alone” four years after his mom’s death when his dad, Solomon, also suffered a lethal heart attack.
At the age of 13, Ice-T had already lost both parents. He admitted they were not that affectionate or talkative, but they gave him food and a roof over his head. Their lack of affection made him “detached.”
“You had the best clothes, the best cars, but you always ended up dead in the pen.”
Ice-T on September 8, 2018 in Sun Valley, California | Photo: Getty Images
The fact that Ice-T’s parents died so young and only four years apart made the experiences blur together in his mind. It was especially hard for him because, as an only child, he went through all that pain and sorrow in his “bubble.”
He was eventually sent to his aunt’s house in South Central Los Angeles and attended Crenshaw High School, where members of the Hoover Crips gang and the Brims (now part of the Bloods) studied, too.
Although Ice-T never joined any gang, he was always surrounded by gang members he met through his girlfriend, who lived in a neighborhood controlled by the Crips.
He found in gang members what his family didn’t give him: affection. After getting his girlfriend pregnant and joining the Army, he returned to Los Angeles to steal for a living.
Ice-T’s partners in crime were gradually arrested and sent to jail for several years, so he knew it was time to leave the streets and become a productive member of society.
Ice-T at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2018 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images
That’s when hip-hop came into his life, and it changed everything. He explained that he would rap for other gang members, and they loved it, so he knew that was his way out. About the life of crime, he said:
“Crime is glamorous until you get caught. You had the best clothes, the best cars, but you always ended up dead in the pen.”
Now, Ice-T is using all his experience in life and relationships to avoid making the same mistakes his parents made with him. Instead of living in a home with little-to-no communication, he would talk to his kids and wife “a lot.” What a way to turn his life around.