Laurence Tureaud, otherwise known as Mr. T, is one of the most unique personalities in the world. He was able to overcome the obstacles that are in place for anyone who grows up in a poor area filled with crime through determination and hard work. These qualities would lead to Laurence acting as B.A. Baracus in the A-Team and captivating audiences in the United States along with the rest of the world. Let’s not forget that Mr. T also played the role of Clubber Lang in Rocky III. A role that Sylvester Stallone was so impressed with that he expanded the role into the main antagonist of the film. These are things that everyone knows about Tureaud. However, there are a lot of things that we don’t know about the man that are even more interesting.
Here are ten things that you may not know about Mr. T. I pity the fool who does not read them.
10. He Was a Math Major
Mr. T’s ability to get out of his unfortunate circumstances at home was due to his athletic ability in high school. Name a sport and Laurence was good at it or could become good at it with very little effort. This talent caught the attention of Prairie View A&M University, a historically African-American college in Texas. They awarded Laurence a football scholarship and he decided to major in mathematics. This is interesting because the academic curriculum for this major is more intense than most majors that are “tailored” for athletes today. Sadly, Mr. T felt that college wasn’t for him and he dropped out after attending for one year.
9. He Is a Modern Day Paul Bunyan
Mr. T cuts down trees. In fact, he’s really good at it. Laurence’s journey as a modern day version of an old folk hero began after he dropped out of college. This was when he decided to begin his career in the United States Army in the military police corps in 1976. During training, one of his punishments was to cut down trees until told to stop. Unfortunately for the army, they forgot to tell him to stop and Mr. T would cut about seventy trees in twelve hours. Mr T’s superiors were understandably flabbergasted and forced him to stop.
Luckily (or not), Mr. T’s tree cutting career wouldn’t stop there. In 1987, Mr. T moved into a ritzy neighborhood in the Chicago area called Lake Forest. His property had over one hundred trees and Mr. T was allergic to all of them. So what did he do? That’s right, he cut ’em down. The residents of the neighborhood were so horrified that they created a law that forbid anyone from chopping down a tree without a permit. To this day, people still refer to the event as the 1987 Lake Forest Chainsaw Massacre. I’m not going to say that Mr. T has a blue ox as a pet to help him carry trees, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
8. He Was Almost An NFL Player
Laurence‘s prowess in American football was well known among many influential people as he went from college to college before his career with the military. However no one thought that he would have a career in the sport considering that he was a college dropout from an athletic scholarship. The Green Bay Packers didn’t care about the lack of his college degree and invited him to tryouts soon after he left the military. These tryouts wouldn’t work out for Mr. T as he suffered a career-ending knee injury. I could say that I would pity him but honestly, I’d rather see him on the A-Team than on the Green Bay Packers.
7. He Had His Own Cartoon Show
In 1983, NBC paid production company Ruby-Spears to create a cartoon show starring Mr. T for their Saturday morning cartoon line-up. Ruby-Spears took advantage of the title and called their show Mister T (how creative). The show’s stars……Mr. T, who is the head coach of a high school gymnastics team that somehow solve mysteries all around the world. The supporting cast make up a group of various ethnicities and backgrounds that bring different talents to the group. Think of it as a strange version of Scooby-Doo.
The show would last three seasons before being cancelled and gave early writers such as Paul Dini, the man who has written some of the best Batman story arcs of all time, a chance to get their feet wet in the industry.
6. He Had His Own Cereal
Quaker Oats wanted to take advantage of Mr. T’s popularity in the 1980’s and decided to send him a few paychecks to get him to talk to them. It worked because soon after the Mr. T cereal was created. The cereal was a mix of corn, oats and sugar. So it was pretty much another version of Captain Crunch. This cereal would even be featured in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, another ’80s cult classic. Do you find this too crazy to be true? Well here’s a commercial!
5. He Was Steve McQueen’s Bodyguard
Tureaud became a bouncer in order to earn a steady income when his football career ended early and he realized that he had no desire to go back to the Army. His tough persona quickly attracted club owners who wanted him to protect their businesses from drug dealers. Mr. T was so good at this that he got into over two-hundred fights and won all of them. This made him infamous and attracted the attention of high-profile clients such as Steve McQueen, who would pay him up to $10,000 a day to keep them safe. In addition to Steve McQueen, other famous clients would include Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, and Muhammad Ali. Not bad at all.
4. Muhammad Ali Was a Guest Referee For One of Mr. T’s Wrestling Matches
Most people know that Mr. T did very well in the world of professional wrestling. He was Hulk Hogan‘s tag team partner at the height of their popularity and the world couldn’t get enough of him. Any wrestling fan will tell you that Mr. T’s participation in WrestleMania I was an amazing event. What they don’t always remember is that Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest boxers ever and Mr. T’s former client, refereed the entire match. That’s right, Ali would have to “punch” a few wrestlers in order to keep order as the match slowly devolved into chaos. Being an amazing bodyguard for one of the greatest boxers in the world definitely has its perks.
3. He Made a Rap Album
Laurence took his potential to be a role model for children very seriously. Perhaps a bit too seriously because he released his first rap album (yes his first) titled Mr. T’s Commandments. It contains seven tracks that are meant to teach moral lessons to children through rap with classics like “Don’t Talk to Strangers” and “No Dope No Drugs.” Hopefully my sarcasm is shining through because listening to the album is more of a test of patience than an enjoyable experience. Here’s an interesting fact for you. Ice T ghost wrote all of the lyrics. Yes, that Ice T.
2. He Was Offered To Be a Professional Assassin
Not expecting this were you? Well, neither was I until I flipped through his autobiography at my local library on a whim. Laurence would get a lot of strange requests when he was at the peak of his bouncer career. Requests such as finding a missing person to “convincing” someone who was late on their payments to change their ways. However, the strangest requested was when a man anonymously mailed an envelope to Mr. T with a request to kill someone. That request came with $5,000 in cash, a first-class round trip airplane ticket to anywhere in the United States, and a promise of $75,000 when the deed was done. Mr. T refused to accept the job and tried to warn the victim, but the victim died of a car accident before Laurence could do anything about it. Luckily, Mr. T didn’t cause the accident so he avoided being a professional assassin for the rest of his life.
1. He Has Given Up His Gold
I was surprised to read that Tureaud would give up a part of his signature look for any reason but he did back in 2005. In many interviews, Mr. T explained that he had become a born-again Christian since the 1970’s due to the experiences that he had in his life. This climaxed in 2005 when the man visited numerous victims of the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans and felt that showing his gold in front of people who had been through so much was a sin. It’s a nice gesture but I don’t know if having gold or not will really help someone else. It’s kind of like eating all of the food on your plate because there are starving children in Africa. Hopefully he sold his gold and gave it to charities that were helping the victims.