Real name: Martin Lawrence
Birthdate: April 16, 1965
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Lawrence was given his first name after Martin Luther King, Jr. and his middle name after that of John F. Kennedy. He was born in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, where his father, John Lawrence, served in the US military. He has three siblings, Robert, Rae and Ursula. When Lawrence was seven, his father left the military and the family moved from Germany back to the United States, settling in Landover, Maryland, in the Washington, D.C., area. After his parents divorced in 1973, Lawrence rarely saw his father, who worked as a police officer. His mother, Chlora, worked several jobs, including as a sales representative and cashier at various department stores, to support her family. During his teen years, Lawrence excelled at boxing. While living in Maryland, he attended Eleanor Roosevelt High School and also Friendly High School, and lived in Apple Grove, becoming a Mid-Atlantic Golden Gloves boxing contender.
Around the same time he was cast in the Def Comedy Jam role, Lawrence appeared in his own sitcom, the hit series Martin, which aired on Fox. The show ran from 1992 to 1997 and was considered a success. He also hosted Saturday Night Live on February 19, 1994, where he made crude remarks on women's genitalia and personal hygiene. The monologue was later completely edited out of reruns and syndicated versions. As a result, Lawrence was banned from the show for life. After Martin ended its run, Lawrence worked on many film projects. He starred or co-starred in many movies alongside Eddie Murphy, Will Smith, and Tim Robbins. Many of his films were blockbusters (including Bad Boys (1995) and Big Momma's House (2000), and his salary increased dramatically to over $10 million per role. He continues to work in film, with his recent films including Big Momma's House 2, which opened #1 at the North American box office and grossed almost $28 million its first weekend, and Wild Hogs (2007), where he played a bored suburbanite looking for adventure on the open road in a biker comedy alongside John Travolta, Tim Allen and William H. Macy.
While filming A Thin Line Between Love and Hate, Lawrence had a violent outburst on the set and began taking drugs. He became increasingly erratic and was arrested after he reportedly brandished a pistol and screamed at tourists on Ventura Boulevard in Los Angeles. He was also arrested at Burbank Airport for carrying a loaded gun in his suitcase. In March of 1997, Lawrence was arrested again after allegedly assaulting a man in a Hollywood nightclub. After racking up several other arrests, he checked into drug rehab and divorced his wife.
In late 1996, Lawrence's Martin co-star Tisha Campbell filed a lawsuit against Lawrence and the show's producers, claiming that Lawrence sexually harassed her to the point where she feared for her life. HBO Studios eventually settled the case with Campbell so that they could complete what would be the show's final season.
In August 1999, Lawrence went into a three-day coma after collapsing from heat exhaustion while jogging in 100-degree heat with several layers of heavy clothing. He recovered in the hospital from near death and running a body temperature of a seemingly impossible 107 °F (41.7 °C), his breathing assisted by a respirator.