Martin Lawrence was born on April 16, 1965, in Frankfurt, West Germany, to American parents. Lawrence's parents, John and Chlora Lawrence served in the United States military. He was the fourth of the six children in the family and was christened after the famous civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. and President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Once his parents’ service in Germany ended, they came back to the United States, where his father started working as a police officer.
His parents fought quite often, and this often made his mother sad. Martin once said that he had a rare ability to make anybody laugh in any situation and that he often made his mother laugh even in times of sadness. His parents divorced when Martin was 8 years old, and Martin stayed back with his mother. His mother had six children to look after as a single mother had to work many jobs to make ends meet.