Date of Birth: April 16, 1965
Born in Frankfurt, Germany, Martin Lawrence has deep comic roots, stemming back to his
childhood. The former Air Force brat used to entertain his mother, who was raising six
children alone, with jokes and silly antics to brighten her day.
In school, Lawrence was the quintessential class clown. An art teacher, who had grown
tired of his interruptions, gave Lawrence the chance to do five minutes of stand-up comedy
at the end of each class. But there was a condition attached. Lawrence had to promise not
to disrupt the class. The laughter of his classmates gave Lawrence the push he needed to
set his sights on becoming a full-time comic.
Post high-school graduation, Lawrence took a big step closer to attaining his goal. He
appeared on the TV show, Star Search. His performance then was tame, but soon grew bawdy
and risqué. He scored a gig as emcee of HBO's Def Comedy Jam. After numerous club and
cable-TV appearances, Lawrence caught the attention of filmmaker Spike Lee, who gave him
a small part in Do the Right Thing (1989).
Lawrence finally found fame and fortune as the star of Martin. The TV show had a
successful five-season run and gave him ample opportunity to launch a film career.
The comedian has had some well-publicized run-ins with the law. In May 1996, Lawrence
was yelling at passers-by at a busy Los Angeles intersection while waving a pistol. He
ran into trouble again when he tried to take a gun on board an airplane. He has
had problems on the set due to violent outbursts and charges of sexual harassment.
Despite his troubles, Lawrence has racked up a string of successes and is establishing
himself as a talented, comic leading man. Married in 1995 to Patricia Southall, a former beauty pageant queen, they have one daughter, but the marriage dissolved in 1996. In 1999 he passed out while jogging due to heat exhaustion and was in a coma but recovered in hospital. His salary for Bad Boys II (2003) was a staggering $20 million.
In 2010 he married second wife Shamicka Gibbs, with whom he has two children. He also has a daughter from his first marriage.