T.I. began rapping at the age of nine. He was raised by his grandparents as his father suffered from Alzheimer's and later died from the disease. He dealt drugs as a teenager and had already been arrested several times before the age of 14. He dropped out of high school but scored a record deal before he was 21.
T.I.'s rap name used to be "Tip" but he changed it out of respect for one of his idols. After signing with Arista Records subsidiary LaFace Records in 2001, "Tip" took on the name T.I. because he didn't want to be confused with label mate Q-Tip, who he admired.
In 2009, T.I. appeared on the TV show Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List. In the episode, the rapper took Griffin to Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles in Los Angeles. He also taught the comedienne how to "swagger."
In 2006, T.I.'s close friend and entourage member Philant Johnson was murdered at a club during a post-concert party. The rapper was later called on to testify at the suspect's murder trial two years later. Since his Johnson's passing, T.I. has dedicated a number of songs and videos to his late friend, including "Dead and Gone
" which features clips of Johnson's grave site.
"Weird" Al Yankovic released a song called "Whatever You Like
" in 2008 which parodied T.I.'s song of the same name. Yankovic says T.I. OK'd the tune which talks about attempting to attract women with coupons and dinners at fast food restaurants like Burger King in a recession.
Aside from his music career, T.I. has also ventured into acting. He's appeared in the films ATL (2006), American Gangster (2007), and Takers (2010.) He also created a film company called Grand Hustle Films and debuted a reality show called Life on Mars in 2008.
Although he's been arrested several times, T.I. still participates in community and charity works in his spare time. Along with helping with post Hurricane Katrina cleanup and relief efforts, T.I. has worked with single parent families at Boys and Girls Clubs and troubled youths at the Paulding Detention Center in Atlanta.
Despite his lengthy arrest history, T.I. has been in a relationship with former Xscape member Tameka "Tiny" Cottle since 2001. The couple has two sons together but also lost a daughter to a complicated pregnancy in 2007. T.I. has two sons and a daughter from previous relationships and a stepdaughter due to his marriage to Cottle.
In 2006, Creed vocalist Scott Stapp
attempted suicide by leaping 40 feet from a Miami hotel balcony; two hours later, he was discovered on the ground by T.I., whom he credits with saving his life.