In 1971 a woman named Afeni Shaker, a member of the Black Panther party, is arrested and charged with conspiracy to bomb a number of public places in New York. While out on bail Afeni met a fellow Black Panther member named Billy Garland. Months later Afeni is acquitted of all charges and released from jail. A short time after Lesane Parish Crooks is born. Lesane's name was soon after changed to Tupac Shakur by his mother. The name Tupac Shakur was Arabic for "Shining Serpent, Thankful to God." Tupac's father Billy Garland was not present at Tupac's birth and isn't a part of his life until nearly twenty years later, but Afeni moved in with Mutulu Shakur who became the father of Tupac's half sister Sekyiwa and his half brother Mopreme. Tupac came to accept Mutula as his father.
The Shakur family moved between the Bronx and Harlem and sometimes was forced to stay homeless shelters just to have a place to sleep. At twelve years old Tupac joined a theater group in Harlem. In his performance, Tupac played Travis in Lorraine Hansberry's play, "A Raisin in the Sun." In 1985 the family moved to Baltimore, Maryland. In Baltimore Tupac attended the, "Baltimore School for the Performing Arts." At this school Tupac met Jada Pinkett who he would remain friends with up until he died. While in Baltimore he wrote his very first lyrics and took the Alias of MC New York. But in 1988 Tupac was forced to leave the school without graduating because the family was once again moving; this time they left for California. They decided to leave because Mutulu was sentenced to prison for 60 years for an armored car robbery that killed one guard and injured two policemen. With Mutulu away life became even harder. So moving seemed like it would be a fresh start. (White 14-30).
Looking back on his early days, Tupac said, "Yeah, we didn't have any lights at home on my house. No lights, no electricity, and 'I'm Bad' by L.L.Cool J. came out and I had batteries in my radio. I heard it for the first time and I was writing rhymes by candlelight and I knew I was gonna be a rapper.(White 13)
Tupac and his friends thrilled to L.L.Cool J.'s "I'm Bad" foe the way it struck a tone that was neither for or against established morality but simply against following anyone else's rules.(White 14)
Afeni moved the family to California in hopes of a better life for the family, but no matter where they went they suffered poverty. Trying to escape her troubles, Afeni was sucked into a crack addiction. Hopes of a suburban life in California were shattered and they realized the reality was just another drug infested ghetto. Tupac moved out of his mother's house and started selling drugs for a living. Remembering L.L.Cool J., Tupac saw rapping as his only escape from the ghetto. (White 35-36).
Tupac went to a retired teacher of an arts program by the name of Leila Steinberg; he read some of his poetry to her and rapped for her. Steinberg later said, "I thought he was the most brilliant young poet, rapper, whatever, I'd ever heard." (White 16). Steinberg became Tupac's first manager. Tupac met a man by the name of Ray Luv who was also working with Steinberg. Together that started a short-loved group of six people. They called themselves "Strictly Dope." But soon Strictly Dope started to fall apart but it was a doorway to further success. Steinberg had introduced the group to a record label, TNT which had signed a popular group by the name of "Digital Underground."...