It Ain’t Just Ice Cube And Dr. Dre: Did You Know They Were From Compton?

June 10, 2013  |  
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While most rappers from the city have no qualms with sharing that they’re from Compton (i.e., Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Kendrick Lamar, DJ Quik, etc.), there are many other famous names who are from the city too.  Some don’t talk about it as much, but they definitely make folks out their proud with their success on TV, in film, on the basketball court and more. Here are nine people from the much talked about city. Some you might have known about, but there are quite a few who definitely surprised us.

Niecy Nash

The very hilarious actress, TV personality, and now love and relationship author, was born in Palmdale, California, but was raised in Compton. As she likes to put it, “I’m just a little black girl from Compton.” But she didn’t have the easiest time growing up there. Back in ’85, she saw her mom shot by an ex (her mother survived), and her younger brother was shot and killed in 1993. According to reports, she got into comedy by cracking jokes and doing routines for her mother in an effort to help lift her spirits after her brother’s death.

Tyson Chandler

Make that, Tyson CLEOTIS Chandler by the way. Before the supper tall New York Knick was fashion’s “It guy” and turning heads among socialites in NYC with his wife Kimberly, Chandler was a gifted athlete living in Compton. He was born in Hanford, Calif. but moved with his family to Compton in high school, where he excelled as a huge hoops star. He would, of course, later go on to get drafted straight out of high school.

Yo Yo

Where has she been? If you were wondering how the female lyricist and Ice Cube became so close back in the day, it’s because they’re both from Compton (and she just happened to be in Boyz n the Hood). Yolanda Whitaker of course had fame as a rapper, but she was also well-known for other acting stints, including playing Sheneneh’s friend Keylolo on Martin. She was also known for being big on female empowerment and being against misogyny in hip-hop.

Venus & Serena Williams

While they might not rep Compton as hard as some of these rappers, the two iconic tennis players were practicing their skills on glass-riddled courts in the city (well, that’s how it was described in Serena’s recent Essence cover story at least). And when Venus first made her debut, her father tried to promote her talents in the city with posters that read, “Venus Williams Is Straight Outta Compton!”

Krist Novoselic, Bassist of Nirvana

Shout out to the rock fans reading! Outside of the much talked about Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl, who is now a member of the huge band Foo Fighters, there was always Bassist Krist Novoselic. The talented fella who at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards threw his bass in the air to catch it, but clocked himself in the face, only to stagger off the stage in pain in front of everybody. Anywho, Novoselic is from Compton USA! He was born to Croatian immigrants in the city.


Anthony Anderson

The now slimmed down funny man (and another Leo on the list–so is Yo Yo) was born and raised in Compton. While trying to get his start on the comedy circuit in Compton, he met with pretty tough crowds. As the story goes, he tried to go with the stage name “Tasty Tony, the One and Only, and if there’s another, he’s a phony.” In his first big show at The Comedy Theater in Compton, when that name was announced, he was booed off the stage before he could even really tell some jokes…

Tiny Lister

You know, Deebo. The 6’5″ professional tough guy, aka actor, was another born and raised in Compton. But before he was playing a black president in The Fifth Element or an overgrown bully with s**t streaks in his drawls, Lister was a big young man trying to stay out of trouble. According to his biography on his website, Lister stayed away from gang life and focused on “religion over wrongdoing.” So don’t let his characters fool you.


There was a lot of controversy recently over where this fella is really from. The Vietnamese and Jamaican rapper tried to get on a reality show on MTV when he was younger, claiming he was raised in the Valley and came from affluent parents. In actuality, which I’m sure he would love to push now that he’s a rapper, Tyga grew up far from affluent in the city of Compton. When he found himself caught up in his past lie, the rapper took to Twitter to say, “When u 14 an ambitious u don’t give a f*k about anything. Scripted tv isn’t that what we all live for.Hahahaha.” Whatever that means…

Baron Davis

The basketball star, who is now a free agent with a mean beard, was raised in Compton. In fact, Davis is good friends with rapper Game, and is the godfather to the rapper’s son, Harlem. While many Compton ballers played at Dominguez High School, Baron Davis was able to go to a pretty distinguished high school (Crossroads School), and became a pretty huge hoop star in LA as a teen.  Many look up to him, including NBA player Brandon Jennings: “He’s probably the Godfather of Los Angeles basketball for us, because everybody grew up looking at BD and he was the one who made it out. He was the one that always came back to Los Angeles and kind of took care of everybody.”


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