Christopher Julius Rock was born in Andrews, South Carolina on February 7, 1965. Rock hosted the Academy Awards twice, in 2005 and in 2016. He has won four Emmy Awards and three Grammy Awards. He was voted the fifth-greatest stand-up comedian in a poll conducted by Comedy Central. He was also voted in the United Kingdom as the ninth-greatest stand-up comic on Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Stand-Ups in 2007, and again in the updated 2010 list as the eighth-greatest stand-up comic.
Shortly after his birth, his parents moved to the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. A few years later, they relocated and settled in the working class area of Bedford–Stuyvesant. His mother, Rosalie (née Tingman), was a teacher and social worker for the mentally handicapped; his father, Julius Rock, was a truck driver and newspaper deliveryman. Julius died in 1988 after ulcer surgery. Rock’s younger brothers Tony, Kenny, and Jordan are also in the entertainment business. His older half-brother, Charles, died in 2006 after a long struggle with alcoholism. Rock has said that he was influenced by the performing style of his paternal grandfather, Allen Rock, a preacher.
Rock’s family history was profiled on the PBS series African American Lives 2 in 2008. A DNA test showed that he is of Cameroonian descent, specifically from the Udeme people of northern Cameroon. Rock’s great-great-grandfather, Julius Caesar Tingman, was a slave for 21 years before serving in the American Civil War as part of the United States Colored Troops. During the 1940s, Rock’s paternal grandfather moved from South Carolina to New York City to become a taxicab driver and preacher.
Rock was bused to schools in predominately white neighborhoods of Brooklyn, where he endured bullying and beatings from white students. As he got older, the bullying became worse and Rock’s parents pulled him out of James Madison High School. He dropped out of high school altogether, but he later earned a GED. Rock then worked menial jobs at various fast-food restaurants.