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What did Ice-T do in the US Army? How enlistment kick-started a legendary Rap career

Disco Ball was revealed to be Ice-T in ‘The Mask Dancer’ after the Grammy-winning hip-hop legend got the least amount of votes
UPDATED DEC 28, 2020
Ice-T (Getty Images)
Ice-T (Getty Images)

The spin-off series of the popular singing reality show, ‘The Masked Singer’, called ‘The Mask Dancer’ premiered on Sunday, December 27, 2020, on FOX where we saw the first group of masked celebrities -- Cricket, Disco Ball, Exotic Bird, Hammerhead and Tulip -- performing in front of panelists Ken Jeong, Brian Austin Green, Paula Abdul and Ashley Tisdale.

The contestant, Disco Ball, unfortunately, had to head back home as his performance got the least amount of votes. At the end of the show, it was revealed the masked celebrity was none other than Grammy-winning hip-hop legend Ice-T. The rapper had performed in Bruno Mars’ hit single ‘Uptown Funk’ and in his montage he had left clues like a shark fin in reference to his ‘SVU’ character Odafin “Fin” Tutuola, saying he wanted to show off his “true colors.”


Speaking to Entertainment Weekly in his exit interview, Ice-T said, “You got about two hours to learn the choreography. Yeah, it's fast. And, you know, early when I was doing the choreography, I was kind of being concerned about hitting all the moves. Once you put that 20-pound head on — it's a big head and it's connected to like a biker's helmet inside of it. You're just concerned with not falling. Like at that point, I threw all the choreography out the window. I said I just don't want to bust my ass on national television like that.”

Ice-T visits SiriusXM Studios on February 18, 2020, in New York City. (Getty Images)

Net worth

In a career spanning more than four decades, the 62-year-old rapper has a net worth of $60 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. The singer-songwriter, who has won several awards, pockets a lot of money from the sales of his music, royalties and copyrights. Interestingly, Ice-T has also ventured into acting and is regularly seen on the small screen. He is well-known for his longstanding role in the drama television series ‘Law & Order: SVU’ as he has appeared in well over 400 episodes. The rapper earns $250,000 per episode of the show which comes out to around $6 million per season before syndication royalties, as published by the same website.

Ice-T has also shown his acting skills on the silver screen with movies like ‘Breakin’ and its sequel, ‘Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo’ and other flicks which helped him pocket more moolah than usual. The multi-talented artist has also penned books like ‘The Ice Opinion: Who Gives a F—?’ in 1994, ‘Ice: A Memoir of Gangster Life’ and ‘Redemption-From South Central to Hollywood’ in 2011, ‘Kings of Vice’ in 2011, and ‘Mirror Image’ in 2013. These books also helped Ice-T to make more money adding to his already flourishing fortune.

Ice-T attends Friends of The Saban Community Clinic's 42nd Annual Gala at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on November 12, 2018, in Beverly Hills, California. (Getty Images)

Personal life

Ice-T, whose real name is Tracy Lauren Marrow, is known for his raps about street life and violence, and his influence on the gangster rap genre. He was also given the name of “OG: Original Gangster” as most of his albums revolved around the subject of crime, hatred, police and streets. Speaking of his personal life, the rapper sold cannabis and stole car stereos to make extra money to support his pregnant girlfriend in 1976. Before trying his luck in music, Ice-T served Army for four years ie from 1979 to 1983 which he had also mentioned at the end of ‘The Masked Dancer.’ It was here that he became interested in hip-hop and learned how to turntable and rap. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Ice-T dated and had a son with Darlene Ortiz in 1992. He then got married to swimsuit model Nicole "Coco Marie" Austin in January 2002 and the couple welcomed their first child in November 2015.

Ice-T attends the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards at Prudential Center on August 26, 2019, in Newark, New Jersey. (Getty Images)

Ice-T’s brief Army enlistment

Before Ice-T made big in life with his music, he served the Army for a brief period of time. As the website IMDb tells us, the hip-hop legend joined the Army after leaving Crenshaw High School in 1979. However, he did not stick there long as he left the service in 1983. Speaking about the same, he had said, “I didn't like total submission to a leader other than myself.” He returned to South Central with the intention of becoming a hip-hop musician. According to, Ice-T struggled to support his girlfriend and daughter and therefore, he decided to join the Army for the financial benefits. He served four years in the 25th Infantry Division. The website reveals that during his deployment in Hawaii, Ice-T served as a squad leader at Schofield Barracks and according to his memoir, it was here that he purchased stereo equipment including turntables, a mixer, and speakers and got interested in hip-hop.