Martin Lawrence is an American actor, comedian, director and producer best known for starring in several big budget comedy films, including Bad Boys I and II, Big Momma's House I and II, Black Knight and National Security.
Lawrence 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 relocated the family to Landover, Maryland, in the Washington D.C. area.
After his parents divorced in 1973, Lawrence rarely saw his father. His mother, Chlora, worked two jobs, including as a 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 became a Mid-Atlantic Golden Gloves boxing contender.
Lawrence moved to California and found his way to the legendary Kings Wood comedy club. Shortly after appearing at the Wood, he won a performance spot on Star Search, a popular show in the United States. He did well on the show and made it to the final round before ultimately losing.
However, executives at Columbia TriStar Television saw Martin's performance and offered him an appearance on the television sitcom What's Happening Now!!; this was his first acting job.
Following What's Happening Now!!, Martin had bit parts in various films and television roles before entertainment mogul Russell Simmons personally selected him to host the groundbreaking series Def Comedy Jam on HBO.
Def Comedy Jam gave many comedians (including Chris Tucker, Steve Harvey and Cedric The Entertainer) mainstream exposure.
Around the same time he was cast in the Def Comedy Jam role, Martin appeared in his own sitcom, the hit series Martin, which aired on Fox. The show ran from 1992 to 1997 and was considered a huge success.
Lawrence also hosted Saturday Night Live on February 19, 1994, in which he made crude remarks about 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 such talents as 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 commanded $20-million per role for National Security (2003) and Bad Boys II (2003).
Big Momma's House 2 opened at #1 on the North American box office in late January 2006, grossing almost $28-million its first weekend.
In 2007 he played a bored suburbanite looking for adventure on the open road in the biker comedy Wild Hogs (2007) alongside John Travolta, Tim Allen and William H. Macy. The movie grossed almost $40-million in its opening weekend.
He will next appear in The Better Man and College Road Trip, both of which are slated for a 2008 release.
Lawrence was once engaged to actress Lark Voorhies and married Patricia Southall, a former Miss Virginia winner in January of 1995. They divorced in September 1996.
He has a daughter named Jasmine Page with Patricia who was born on January 15, 1996. He also has two other daughters born in 2001 and 2003.