The Empire star says he witnessed his father stab a man to death while waiting for Santa Claus.
Terrence Howard's life is full of surprises.
In a loaded interview with Rolling Stone magazine, the Empire star remembers a traumatic event that has forever influenced his life. When he was just two years old, Howard says he witnessed his father, 21-year-old Tyrone Howard, kill a man while waiting in a Cleveland, Ohio department store in 1971. Both families were on line to see Santa Claus.
"I was standing next to my father, watching," Howard said. "Then stuff happened so quickly — blood was on the coats, on our jackets — and then my dad's on a table and then my dad is gone to prison."
The unfortunate event started off as an argument between a father of three children and Tyrone, who was with his wife Anita and his three children, including Terrence. The two argued about who was next in line until it escalated into Tyrone grabbing hold of a nail file and stabbing the man to death. The encounter came to be known as the Santa Line Slaying, and made national headlines. Tyrone spent 11 months in jail and was eventually paroled for good behavior.
Through the years, Howard says his father taught him to be a man. "My daddy taught me, 'Never take the vertebrae out of your back or the bass out of your throat. I ain't raisin' sheep. I raised men. Stay a man,'" he said.
The 46-year-old actor says he tries to keep his Empire character Lucious Lyon's dark persona very far from is everyday demeanor.
"Everything I do with Lucious is still me," he says. "I just change the vibration. Because Lucious has a very base understanding of life – kill or be killed – I keep him down at a very low frequency."