Childhood & Early Life
Mr. T was born Lawrence Tureaud on May 21, 1952, in Chicago, Illinois, US, to Nathaniel Tureaud, Sr., a minister (Christianity), as the youngest child among eight boys and four girls.
His father left the family when he was 5. Thereafter, he, along with his siblings, was raised by his mother in a three-roomed apartment in the public housing project ‘Robert Taylor Homes’ in Bronzeville, in Chicago’s South Side.
Growing up in a place marked with poverty and pollution, he had beheld heinous crimes including rape and murder as a matter of usual practice. His brothers motivated him into body building to hold up in such environment.
Despite growing up in such surroundings, he came out clean and successful, and he gives all the credit to his mother and to his own determination to do well.
He studied at ‘Dunbar Vocational High School’ and garnered average grades. Recollecting those days, he says, "Most of the time, I stared out the windows, just daydreaming.” However, he excelled in other activities of school that included wrestling, martial arts and football.
He became a city wrestling champion thrice while in high school and earned a football scholarship to ‘Prairie View A&M University’. There he majored in mathematics but was driven out after a year.
Thereafter, he served as military policeman in the Military Police Corps and in November 1975, he received a recommendation letter from his drill sergeant. He was chosen as "Top Trainee of the Cycle" among a cycle of 6,000 troops and received a promotion as squad leader.
Following his stint in army, he attempted to play football for professional American football team ‘Green Bay Packers’ but remained unsuccessful due to a knee injury.
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In mid-70s, he started working as a bouncer and adopted a new moniker, Mr. T, flaunting a Mohawk hairstyle that he chose after getting motivated by a National Geographic photo of an African Mandikan warrior.
Hired at a night club to check violence and keep drug dealers and users away, he would conspicuously wear gold jewellery left by customers including the banned and misbehaving ones who could come and collect them without going inside.
He was sued many times in his bouncer’s job and each time he won the case. Eventually, he came in contact with several celebrities who were frequent visitors to the nightclub and these connections helped him get a new job as celebrity bodyguard.
In his ten years as bodyguard he worked for individuals from different walks of life including celebrities, bankers, preachers, judges, politicians, athletes and prostitutes with charge per day ranging from $3,000 to $10,000. He would carry a .38 caliber snubnose and a .357 Magnum revolver.
His clientele included imminent personalities like Michael Jackson, Muhammad Ali, Diana Ross and Steve McQueen among others. As his reputation grew he started getting various lucrative yet strange offers including illegal ones such as murder but refused them without any hesitation.
He portrayed as himself in the American Blaxploitation drama film, ‘Penitentiary 2’ that released on April 2, 1982.
While participating in ‘America's Toughest Bouncer’ contest, a segment of NBC TV show, ‘Games People Play’, he was spotted by Sylvester Stallone and that fetched the role of the main antagonist, Clubber Lang, in the 1982 sports drama film ‘Rocky III’.
He gave voiceover as Mr. T, coach of a gymnastics team, in an animated TV series ‘Mister T’ that aired on Saturday morning on NBC from 1983 to 1986. In 1983, he also featured as himself in two different TV series namely ‘Diff'rent Strokes’ and ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks’.
One of his notable TV series was ‘The A-Team’, an American action-adventure that aired from 1983 to 1987 on NBC. He portrayed the character of ‘Sergeant Bosco "B. A." Baracus with great elan.
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Over the years he continued his acting endeavours with films like ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ (1987), ‘Freaked’ (1993), ‘Spy Hard’ (1996) and ‘Not Another Teen Movie’ (2001); and TV series like ‘T. and T’ (1988-90) and ‘Blossom’ (1994).
In 1984, he came up with a rap EP ‘Mr. T's Commandments’ for children where he encouraged children to imbibe good values, listen to parents, study and stay away from drugs. That year he also came up with a motivational video titled ‘Be Somebody... or Be Somebody's Fool!’.
Meanwhile, he remained associated with WWF Superstars of Wrestling from 1984-86 and again in 1988. On March 31, 1985, during the first WrestleMania he partnered with American pro wrestler Hulk Hogan and defeated tag team partners, Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff.
During WrestleMania 2 in 1986, he defeated arch rival Piper in a boxing match by disqualification. The following year, he participated in WrestleMania as a referee.
He featured in World Class Championship Wrestling on July 21, 1989, supporting Kerry Von Erich.
After a hiatus, he returned to the ring for a match between Hogan and Ric Flair that was held at WCW's ‘Halloween Havoc’ in October 1994. That year, he defeated wrestler Kevin Sullivan at Starrcade.
He presented a clip show titled ‘World's Craziest Fools’ made by Roughcut TV. The show originally released on June 6, 2011, and ran on ‘BBC Three’ till March 11, 2013, comprising of two seasons and twenty episodes.
His name was inducted in the celebrity wing of the Hall of Fame of WWE in 2014 by Gene Okerlund.
He features in ‘I Pity the Tool’, a home renovation show that premiered in 2015 on the ‘DIY Network’.