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Will Smith

September 25, 1968
Willard Christopher Smith Jr. is born to Caroline Smith, a school administrator, and Willard C. Smith Sr., an Air Force veteran. He, his two sisters and his brother are raised in the middle-class suburb of West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Education is stressed in the Smith household and humor is abundant.

After years refining his rap skills and shortly after teaming up with Philadelphia DJ Jeff Townes, the duo release their first album, "Rock the House," which sells 600,000 copies. Despite an interview with the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Smith decides not to attend college but instead pursues his music career.

Smith leaves West Philadelphia for Hollywood, California, where he takes on the title role in the sitcom, "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." Smith's character is a fun-loving black teen thrust into a largely affluent, white world -- much like his own childhood.

In May 1992, 23-year-old Smith marries Sheree Zampino, a fashion design student he had dated less than a year. The couple have a boy, Willard Smith III, in December.

Smith's movie career takes a giant step forward as he stars opposite Martin Lawrence in the action comedy, "Bad Boys." The movie, directed by Michael Bay and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, rakes in $140 million.

After three years of marriage, Smith and Zampino divorce.

Smith marries Jada Pinkett, whom he had met six years earlier on the set of "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air." Pinkett later gives birth to son Jaden and daughter Willow.

That same year, Smith confirms his box office clout and alien-busting credentials in "Men in Black," the film industry's biggest moneymaker of 1997. Smith also finds gold in the recording studio with the movie's title song and the smash hit, "Getting' Jiggy Wit It."

While his song "Wild Wild West" does well commercially, the film, based on a 1960s TV show and starring Smith and Kevin Kline, flops at the box office.

Smith stars opposite Tommy Lee Jones in a sequel to the hugely popular "Men In Black."

Early 1980s
Will Smith attends a predominantly white Catholic school several miles from his home. The class cut-up shows promise in the classroom, especially in math. He later transfers to Overbrook High School in West Philadelphia.

In a hip-hop world dominated by gritty, hard-core rappers, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince find mainstream success with their flowing beats and G-rated lyrics. The duo take home the first ever Grammy for best rap performance for their hit "Parents Just Don't Understand."

Townes and Smith squander their millions in earnings, returning to the studio in debt. The track "Summertime," of the album "Homebase," earns another Grammy and more commercial success, but Smith leans to devoting more time to his acting career.

After a series of small parts, Smith finally lands his breakthrough film role, playing a gay con man in "Six Degrees of Separation." The film is a commercial and critical success.

In "Independence Day," Smith saves the world from aliens and he emerges as a Hollywood hero as the science fiction/comedy/action epic finishes as the year's top-grossing film.

Besides winning multiple music honors at the Grammy and MTV Music Awards, Smith also cleans up the box office once again. This time, he stars as a lawyer trapped in a scheme that threatens him and the world in "Enemy of the State."

A few months after his 2000 film, "The Legend of Bagger Vance," sags at the box office, "Ali" -- in which Smith portrays legendary boxer Muhammad Ali -- opens to rave reviews in December 2001. Audiences shy away from the film, which nonetheless earns critical acclaim for Smith, including an Oscar nomination for best actor.

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