1 of 18 Deborah Feingold/Corbis
LL Cool J basks inside his hop-hop haven in 1987. Little did he know, it was just the beginning.
2 of 18 Chris Carroll/Corbis
In the beginning, it was all word-of-mouth and mixtapes that got the buzz swirling about Def Jam’s up-and-coming rap star. The rest is history.
3 of 18 Pam Springsteen/Corbis
Though he entitled his 2000 album, “G.O.A.T.”, he always carried himself like a champion…no disrespect to Ali, of course!
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LL Cool J escorts his grandmother to the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards. She was the inspiration behind his hit album and single, “Mama Said Knock You Out.”
“The major challenge for me was balancing my home life with my iconic rapper status and knowing when to just be a dad and a husband,” he said. “Overall, I had to make sure that I was there for my family and that I wasn’t so self-absorbed that I alienated them.”
5 of 18 Courtesy of Def Jam
After 13 albums, LL Cool J delivers his final Def Jam album, aplty entitled “Exit 13.”
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LL Cool J poses with his wife, Simone, and three of their four children.
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LL takes a moment to pose for the cameras with his longtime manager, Chris Lighty.
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Hailing from Queens, both LL and Reverend Run have enjoyed great mainstream success, yet continue to stay true to their hip-hop roots.
9 of 18 Gary Hershorn/Corbis
LL Cool J is joined by fellow Queens rapper, 50 Cent, at the MTV Video Music Awards.
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LL Cool J continues to be an indelible force in hip-hop and Hollywood.
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LL is joined on stage by a young fan at DirecTV’s Celebrity Beach Bowl.
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LL Cool J is joined by Quincy Jones in the studio to record “We Are the World 25 Years.”
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An all-grown-up LL grabs the mic, looking dapper.
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LL Cool J, the actor (and star of “NCIS: Los Angeles”) walks the red carpet in style.
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Though he blessed himself with the moniker LL Cool J (Ladies Love Cool James), his momma named him James Todd Smith.
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Throughout his career, LL Cool J has built a multi-facetedl brand which encompasses music, television, film, fitness and fashion.
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LL Cool J has come a long way since he portrayed himself, then a burgeoning rap star, in 1985’s “Krush Groove.”
18 of 18 Stephen Stickler/Corbis
A two-decades-plus veteran of the entertainment industry, LL Cool J continues to grow as an artist and actor.
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