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Famous People in Bedford Stuyvesant

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Famous People in Bedford Stuyvesant

Bedford-Stuyvesant, or Bed-Stuy, is a renowned neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY, known for its cultural heritage centered around the African American community since the late 1930s. The completion of the Fulton Street subway line in 1936 facilitated a significant migration of African Americans from Harlem to Bedford-Stuyvesant, drawn by the availability of more spacious housing. Bed-Stuy has been home to numerous notable individuals. Here are some famous people that grew up in Bedford Stuyvesant.


Shawn Corey Carter, known as Jay-Z, is an American rapper and entrepreneur born on December 4, 1969, in Brooklyn, New York City. Raised in the Marcy Houses, a public housing project in Brooklyn’s Bedford–Stuyvesant neighborhood, Jay-Z’s upbringing influenced his life and career. His father left the family when he was young, leaving his mother, Gloria Carter, to raise him and his three older siblings. Jay-Z attended Eli Whitney High School and George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School in Brooklyn, later moving to Trenton Central High School in New Jersey, though he didn’t graduate, dropping out during his sophomore year. During his early years, Jay-Z faced challenges, including involvement in selling crack cocaine and surviving several gunshots.

Despite these hardships, Jay-Z found inspiration in his neighborhood and adopted the stage name “Jay-Z” as a tribute to his mentor Jaz-O. His experiences growing up in Bedford-Stuyvesant and navigating its challenges helped shape his resilience and eventual success in the music industry.

Tommy Davis

Herman Thomas Davis Jr. (March 21, 1939 – April 3, 2022) was an accomplished American professional baseball player and coach, renowned for his career in Major League Baseball as a left fielder and third baseman from 1959 to 1976, playing for ten different teams. He excelled with the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he earned two National League batting championships and contributed to their 1963 World Series victory. Throughout his 18-year career, Davis compiled impressive statistics and became well known for his versatility.

Born and raised in the Bedford–Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, Davis was the only child of Herman Sr. and Grace Lenore Davis. Nicknamed “Tommy” by his mother, he attended Boys High School in Brooklyn, where he distinguished himself in basketball alongside future Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens under coach Mickey Fisher. Davis also showcased his athletic prowess as a long jumper on the school’s track and field team, alongside record-breaker Bernard Lowther. His upbringing in Bedford-Stuyvesant had a large role in shaping his success, and he consistently expressed pride in his roots from Bed- Stuy.

The Notorious BIG

Christopher George Latore Wallace (May 21, 1972 – March 9, 1997), better known as The Notorious B.I.G. or Biggie Smalls, was a highly influential American rapper rooted in East Coast hip hop and gangster rap. Widely regarded as one of the greatest rappers of all time, Wallace’s distinctive laid-back lyrical style contrasted with the often-gritty content of his lyrics. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York City, Wallace grew up in the heart of Bedford-Stuyvesant. He was born at St. Mary’s Hospital and spent his early years at 226 St. James Place in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill, near the border with Bedford-Stuyvesant. Raised in a Jamaican immigrant household, his mother, Voletta Wallace, worked tirelessly as a preschool teacher while his father, Selwyn George Latore, a welder and politician, left the family when Wallace was just two years old.

Despite the challenges he faced growing up, including depression and early involvement in street life, Wallace found solace and inspiration in Bedford-Stuyvesant. He attended St Peter Claver Church and excelled academically at Queen of All Saints Middle School before his rebellious teenage years led him into the world of rap music and street hustling. His stage name, Biggie Smalls, reflected his larger-than-life persona and physique, earning him early recognition in the local music scene. Wallace’s upbringing in Bedford-Stuyvesant shaped his music and persona, influencing his lyrical themes of urban struggle and resilience.

Chris Rock

Christopher Julius Rock, born on February 7, 1965, is a well-known American comedian, actor, and filmmaker whose career spans stand-up comedy, television, and film. He became famous in the 1980s with his stand-up routines; he is celebrated for his wise observations on race, sexuality, and everyday life.

Born in Andrews, South Carolina, Rock’s family moved to the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn shortly after his birth. They later settled in the working-class area of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, where Rock spent his formative years. His mother, Rosalie, worked as a teacher and social worker, while his father, Julius Rock, was a truck driver and newspaper deliveryman. Julius passed away in 1988 following surgery. As the eldest of seven siblings, Rock grew up amidst the cultural vibrancy and challenges of Bedford-Stuyvesant. His upbringing in this diverse and sometimes tough neighborhood deeply influenced his comedic style and worldview.

Bill Thompson

William Colridge Thompson Jr., born on July 10, 1953, is an American politician known for his roles as the 42nd Comptroller of New York City and chairman of the board of trustees of The City University of New York (CUNY). He began his tenure as Comptroller on January 1, 2002, serving two terms until January 1, 2010, during which he also ran for mayor.

Raised in the vibrant Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, Thompson is the son of Elaine Thompson, a public-school teacher, and William C. Thompson Sr., a prominent figure in Brooklyn politics, including roles as City Councilman, State Senator, and judge. His family heritage traces back to Saint Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean, where his grandparents immigrated before settling in New York City. Thompson attended Midwood High School in Brooklyn and went on to graduate from Tufts University in 1974. His career has been marked by a commitment to public service and education, exemplified by his leadership at CUNY following his political tenure. Thompson’s contributions reflect the influence of his upbringing in Bedford-Stuyvesant shaping his dedication to proudly serving his community

Bedford Stuyvesant, often referred to as Bed-Stuy, has been home to a diverse array of influential figures across various fields. Politicians such as Bill Thompson and comedians like Chris Rock, known for his groundbreaking work in stand-up and television, have roots in this vibrant Brooklyn neighborhood. Their contributions reflect Bed-Stuy’s rich cultural heritage.