Few would ever connect the rough-and-tumble gang plagued areas of urban Los Angeles with quaint Summit. But when actor, author and one of the architects of West Coast rap music, Ice-T attended Summit public school system back in the 1960s—under his real name, Tracy Marrow—he probably wouldn’t have made the connection either.
Marrow is the greatest rapper to come out of Summit. Additionally, his career in movies and television have made him a pop culture icon. You can catch him on NBC's "Law & Order: SVU" a TV gig he's had for over 10 years.
Perhaps his background in Summit was what prepared him for the diversity in his career and his ability to successfully cross-over from hard-core rap music into more mainstream, non hip-hop ventures such as action and science fiction movies. He'll always be known in pop-culture lore for the way he angered the police and the government with the controversial “Cop Killer” record in 1992.
According to a website for the Brayton school, Ice-T is considered one of the school's "notable alumni." Here is how Ice is described:
A famous rapper/actor who later moved to Los Angeles after his parents died when he was in 3rd and 6th grade.
Summit features prominently in the biography of Ice-T and the city has a place in the book he released last year, “Ice”. In it he talks about growing up in Summit and how he dealt with issues of race in the city.
In an excerpt from his book available through an interview by NPR, he talked affectionately about Summit and the street he grew up on:
There was this tiny area of Summit where most of the black families lived. My parents and I lived in a duplex house on Williams Street.
He learned to swim at the YMCA.
It was kind of a big deal to have a membership to the Y, because it meant your Pops had money to spend on you. I remember going from Pollywog to Dolphin, then graduating to Shark and Lifesaver, and I'm pretty proud of the fact that I learned to be a good swimmer.
One of the more personal things that Ice says he learned about while living in Summit was race.
Everybody figures out there's something called "race" at some point in their life, and for me it happened when I was about seven years old. At the time, I was going to Brayton Elementary School in Summit, and I used to have a white friend named Alex. He was one of my closest friends in school. Alex and me were walking over to his house one day after school and we bumped into this other kid from our class named Kenneth — he was one of the few other black kids who went to Brayton with me. Soon as we ran into Kenneth, Alex told him, "Kenneth, you can't come over."
Next up: Willie Wilson, Summit’s greatest athelete.