Mr. T
Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com
  • Faith: Christian
  • Career: Actor
  • Birthday:  May 21, 1952

Mr. T, born Laurence Tureaud, is an actor. He's known for his roles as B.A. Baracus in the 1980s television show "The A-Team" and as boxer Clubber Lang in the 1982 movie "Rocky III." He's known for his copious gold jewelry, his distinctive hairstyle inspired by Mandinka warriors in West Africa, and his catchphrase "I pity the fool!" which he first used as Clubber Lang in "Rocky III," then turned into a trademark used in titles or slogans, like the 2006 reality show "I Pity The Fool."

Tureaud was born in Chicago, the youngest son in a family with 12 children. He and his siblings grew up in a three-room apartment in the Robert Taylor Homes. His father, Nathaniel, was a minister. After his father left the family when he was five, Laurence shortened his name, and in 1970, he legally changed his last name to T. His new name, Mr. T., was based on his childhood feelings regarding the lack of respect from white people for his family. He said he thought about his grown male family members being called boy and asked himself what a black man had to do to get respect as a man.

So when he was 18, he told himself he was old enough to be a man and self-ordained himself, Mr. T, so the first word out of everyone's mouth would be "Mr." In high school, Tureaud wrestled, played football, and studied martial arts, becoming the citywide wrestling champion two years in a row. He received a football scholarship to Prairie View A&M University, where he majored in mathematics, but was expelled as a freshman. After leaving college, he worked as a gym instructor for a government program in Chicago, where he said he discovered a gift for helping children.

In 1975, Tureaud enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in the Military Police Corps. After his discharge in the late 70s, he tried out for the Green Bay Packers but didn't make the team due to a knee injury. After working as a bouncer, Tureaud parlayed that job into a career as a bodyguard that lasted almost a decade. As his reputation grew, he was contracted to guard models, judges, politicians, millionaires, and athletes. His clients included celebrities like Michael Jackson, Steve McQueen, Levar Burton, and Diana Ross and boxers like Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali.

What religion is Mr. T?

Mr. T is a Christian who was baptized at 4 years old. In 1979, he donated winnings from the Toughest Bouncer in America contest to his home church in Chicago. In 2005, he gave up his well-known gold chains after seeing the damage from Hurricane Katrina. He said, "As a Christian, when I saw other people lose their lives and lose their land and property, I felt that it would be a sin before God for me to continue wearing my gold. I felt it would be insensitive and disrespectful to the people who lost everything, so I stopped wearing my gold."

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