10 Lesser-Known Facts About Lawrence Tureaud aka Mr. T
Mr. T, a retired professional wrestler and a beloved American actor, is quite well-known for his unique persona. His Mandinka warrior hairstyle, gold jewelry, and his tough-guy image are what makes him stand apart. Even though we know that he was in Rocky III, there are a lot more facts about Mr. T that we are unaware of. If you are interested, then we suggest you read on!
1 Mr. T has 11 siblings and grew up in a three-room apartment in one of Chicago’s housing projects.
Lawrence Tureaud, or Mr. T as we now know him, was born on May 21, 1952. He was the youngest in a family with 12 kids – four girls and eight boys. His childhood was spent in a three-room apartment which was located in one of Chicago’s housing projects known as Robert Taylor Homes. The house was in a poorly constructed building, and the area was engulfed with harmful environmental pollutants. Mr. T grew up in one of the largest, poverty-stricken areas.
Moreover, crime was a common occurrence in the locality. Mr. T witnessed crimes such as murder and rape regularly throughout his childhood. But it was his own determined will and his mother’s selfless love that made him survive his harsh childhood and become the man he is today. (source)
2 He took the name “Mr. T” to gain respect from White people who used to call his father and brothers “boy.” He self-ordained himself “Mr. T” so the first word used when anyone calls him is “mister.”
Growing up in the housing projects, Tureaud felt like his family never got the respect they deserved, especially from White people. This played an important role in the personality that he carved out for himself and displayed as Mr. T. In his words, “I think about my father being called ‘boy’, my uncle being called ‘boy’, my brother, coming back from Vietnam and being called ‘boy’. So I questioned myself: ‘What does a Black man have to do before he’s given the respect as a man?’ So, when I was 18 years old, when I was old enough to fight and die for my country, old enough to drink, old enough to vote, I said I was old enough to be called a man. I self-ordained myself ‘Mr. T’ so the first word out of everybody’s mouth is ‘mister.’ That’s a sign of respect that my father didn’t get, that my brother didn’t get, that my mother didn’t get.”
Well, we respect you to the core, Mr. T! (source)
3 After getting expelled from his university, Mr. T joined the military, and on one occasion, he was ordered to cut down trees as a punishment by a sergeant. He cut down 70 trees in 3.5 hours before a shocked major ordered him to stop.
Mr. T won a football scholarship to Prairie View A&M University when he was attending Dunbar Vocational High School. It’s hard to believe, but in the university, he majored in mathematics. But unfortunately, he was expelled from college in one year.
He then signed up for the United States Army and served in the Military Police Corps. By the end of 1975, he received a letter of recommendation from his drill sergeant and was also elected as the “Top Trainee of the Cycle” out of a cycle of 6,000 troops. He also got promoted to squad leader.
In 1976, when Mr. T was at a training camp in Wisconsin, the sergeant of his platoon gave out a punishment and ordered him to chop down trees. The only thing the sergeant forgot to specify was how many trees to chop down. To everybody’s disbelief, Mr. T went ahead and chopped down 70 trees in just 3.5 hours and that too single-handedly. He only stopped after a shocked major overrode the sergeant’s order and ordered him to stop. (source)
4 Mr. T first noticed the unusual hairstyle, for which he is now famous, on a Mandinka warrior while reading National Geographic.
Even though some of us call Mr. T’s haircut a mohawk, it’s actually not. Once in 1977, Mr. T was reading a National Geographic magazine when he happened to see a photo of an African warrior. He belonged to the Mandinka ethnic group of Africa. He was standing with his spear and had beads around his neck and colorful accessories on his ankles.
But what caught Mr. T’s eyes was his hairstyle. It was so unique and Mr. T had never seen it before. So, he thought to himself, “Wow, let me bring respect to them,” as he mentioned in an interview with the AllHipHop.com. But he is okay if people call his hairstyle a mohawk. (source)
5 Originally, Mr. T’s gold chains came from customers at the nightclub where he worked as a bouncer. People had either lost them or left them behind after a fight.
After Mr. T was discharged from his military duties, he almost made it to the National Football League but had to drop out due to a knee injury. He next took up a job as a bouncer. It was around this time that the persona of Mr. T with the gold chains and the jewelry started taking shape. Numerous customers would lose their jewelry or leave them behind in the club after a fight. It was that jewelry that Mr. T started wearing at first. Sometimes, people would return to claim his lost jewelry and Mr. T would conspicuously wear it in front of them.
Apart from breaking up fights in the club, Mr. T was also responsible for keeping drug dealers and users out. He had been in more than 200 fights during his bouncing days and was sued numerous times. Once he remarked, “I have been in and out of the courts as a result of my beating up somebody. I have been sued by customers whom I threw out that claimed that I viciously attacked them without just cause and/or I caused them great bodily harm as a result of a beating I supposedly gave them.”(source)
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