Tracy Jamal Morgan (born November 10, 1968) is an American actor and comedian best known for his eight seasons as a cast member on Saturday Night Live (1996–2003) and for his role as Tracy Jordan in the comedy series 30 Rock (2006–2013). He was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2009 for his work on 30 Rock. He has appeared in numerous films as an actor and voice actor.
Morgan was born in the Bronx and raised in a housing project in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. His father named him Tracy in honor of a 17-year-old platoon mate and friend who shipped off to Vietnam with him and was killed in action days later. He is the second-oldest of five children of homemaker Alicia (née Warden), and Jimmy Morgan, a musician who returned from military duty in the Vietnam War as a recovering heroin addict, causing him to leave the family when Morgan was six years old.
The target of bullies as a child, Morgan attended DeWitt Clinton High School. In 1985, at age 17 in his sophomore year, he learned his father had contracted AIDS from hypodermic needle use. His father died in November 1987, at age 39. Morgan married his girlfriend Sabina that year and dropped out of high school just four credits short of his diploma. Already raising their first son and living on welfare, Morgan sold crack cocaine with limited success, but began earning money performing comedy on the streets after his best friend was murdered. He said in 2009: "He would say to me, 'Yo, Tracy, man, you should be doing comedy.' A week later, he was murdered. And that for me, that was like my Vietnam. I had my survival guilt when I started to achieve success. Why I made it out and some guys didn't."
Morgan embarked on a stand-up comedy career, successfully enough that he "finally moved to a nice community in [the Bronx neighborhood of] Riverdale, from a run-down apartment next to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx".
Morgan made his screen debut playing Hustle Man on the television show Martin. The character sold various items from the "hood," always greeting people with his trademark "What's happ'n, chief?" and had a pet dog that he dressed as a rapper. In the 2003 Chris Rock film Head of State, Morgan appeared as a man watching television, often questioning why they are not watching Martin.
Morgan was also a regular cast member on Uptown Comedy Club, a sketch-comedy show filmed in Harlem that aired for two seasons, from 1992 to 1994. He was on the HBO series Snaps in 1995.
Morgan joined the cast of the comedy series Saturday Night Live in 1996 and performed as a regular until 2003. He returned to host on March 14, 2009 and reprised his roles as Brian Fellow and Astronaut Jones. He also made a guest appearance on the Saturday Night Live Christmas show in December 2011, hosted by Jimmy Fallon.
From 2006 to 2013, Morgan was a cast member of the television series 30 Rock, playing the character Tracy Jordan, a caricature of himself. His work on 30 Rock was well-received, and he was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series at the 2009 Emmy Awards.
Morgan had his own show, The Tracy Morgan Show, in 2003, which was canceled after one season.
Morgan appeared in a stand-up special, One Mic, on Comedy Central. He also hosted the first Spike Guys' Choice Awards, which aired on June 13, 2007. In 2003, he was on an episode of Punk'd in which his car was towed from the valet parking. He can be heard as Spoonie Luv on the Comedy Central program Crank Yankers and as Woof in the animated series Where My Dogs At?.
Morgan acted in commercials for ESPN NFL 2K, ESPN NBA 2K, and ESPN NHL 2K, co-starring with Warren Sapp, Ben Wallace and Jeremy Roenick. He appeared in Adam Sandler's film The Longest Yard as a transvestite inmate.
Morgan has hosted the VH1 Hip Hop Honors for two consecutive years and hosted the third season of Scare Tactics, the SyFy's hidden-camera show that pranks people by using their worst fears against them.
Morgan has done voice acting for animated features such as Blaster the guinea pig in Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer's G-Force, a bulldog named Luiz in Blue Sky Studio's Rio and it's sequel, and Mr. Gristle in Laika's The Boxtrolls.
Morgan also appeared on the 2012 NHL Awards show on June 20, 2012, ridiculously imitating a New York Rangers fourth-liner. According to the fans, the producers decided to put him with the Rangers because of head coach John Tortorella's behavior, since Morgan shouted at him during his speech, "Coach, I'm on the phone with my wife!"
Morgan appeared in two episodes of the Animal Planet series Tanked, first having a Jaws-themed shark tank built in the basement of his house, then having a replacement tank built for his giant Pacific octopus.
Morgan hosted the 2013 Billboard Music Awards.
On October 20, 2009, Morgan's autobiography, I Am the New Black, was released. The book includes stories about living in Tompkins Projects in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, to becoming a cast member on Saturday Night Live. Morgan appeared on National Public Radio's Fresh Air hosted by Terry Gross, at times becoming very emotional about his former life in a New York ghetto.
Morgan married his high school sweetheart Sabina in 1985. They have three sons together. Morgan filed for divorce in August 2009, after 23 years of marriage. Morgan credits one of his sons with having saved him from his alcoholism. Morgan said in 2009, "I'm estranged from my own mother and most of my family, and I'm not sure that's going to change much."
Morgan said in September 2011 that he and model Megan Wollover had become engaged six months earlier in San Francisco, and in January 2013 he announced that they were expecting their first child. Their daughter was born in New York on July 2, 2013.
Diabetes and kidney transplant
In 1996, Morgan was diagnosed with diabetes. With his consent, many of his own troubles were incorporated within 30 Rock episodes. In early December 2010, Morgan received a kidney transplant.
On June 7, 2014, Morgan was a passenger in a Mercedes Sprinter bus involved in a six-vehicle accident in New Jersey. Just after 1:00 am EDT Saturday morning, the vehicle was traveling northbound on the New Jersey Turnpike near Cranbury, when it was struck from behind by a tractor-trailer operated by Walmart, causing a chain reaction crash. Morgan and three other comedians including Harris Stanton, along with Morgan's assistant and two limo company employees, had been returning from an engagement at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino in Dover, Delaware, as part of Morgan's "Turn it Funny" stand-up comedy tour. The crash killed Morgan's friend and collaborator, 62-year-old comedian James McNair.
Morgan was taken by helicopter to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey, with a broken leg and femur, broken nose, and several broken ribs, and underwent surgery on his leg on June 8. In a 2015 interview with Today, Morgan stated that he was in a coma for roughly two weeks. On June 20, 2014, Morgan was released from the hospital and was transferred to a rehabilitation facility to continue recovering from the injuries sustained during the accident. He was released from the rehab center on July 12, 2014.
The driver of the Walmart transport-truck, Kevin Roper of Jonesboro, Georgia, pleaded not guilty to one count of death by auto and four counts of assault by auto. The complaint alleges Roper dozed off and hit Morgan's limo after swerving to avoid slowed traffic ahead of him. It also argues that Roper had been awake for more than 24 hours before the crash. A preliminary investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board revealed that Roper had been on the clock since 11:20 Friday morning, and was very close to the federal limits of 14 hours per day and 11 hours behind the wheel.
On July 10, Morgan sued Walmart for negligence. The suit alleged that Walmart either knew or should have known that Roper hadn't slept for more than 24 hours. The complaint alleged that before his shift, Walmart forced Roper to drive from his home in Jonesboro to a Walmart distribution center in Smyrna, Delaware—a distance of some 750 miles (1,210 km) over 11 hours—even though there were several other distribution centers within a much more reasonable driving distance. Morgan filed the suit on behalf of himself, Fuqua, Millea, and Millea's wife Krista. At the time of the accident, Krista Millea was eight months pregnant, and the suit charges that she suffered loss of consortium due to the injuries suffered by her husband. In September 2014, it was reported that Walmart had blamed Morgan and the other victims' injuries on not wearing seatbelts, a claim both Morgan and his counsel fervently denied, noting that the driver that caused the crash had been charged with vehicular homicide and that the police report stated that seatbelts were not an issue in the case.
In October 2014, Morgan's representative said the actor was still undergoing rehab and required a wheelchair when taking more than "some steps". Newspaper photos showed him walking with the assistance of a cane outside his Cresskill, New Jersey home. In November 2014, it was revealed during court proceedings that Morgan is still undergoing treatment for traumatic brain injury, including daily speech, cognitive, vocational and physical therapies. On May 27 2015, Walmart settled the lawsuit with an undisclosed amount.
On January 27, 2011, Morgan appeared on the NBA on TNT pregame coverage of the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks nationally-televised live basketball game. During the appearance, commentators Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith asked Morgan to choose between Sarah Palin and Tina Fey on who was better looking (Fey, Morgan's 30 Rock co-star, portrays Palin on Saturday Night Live). Morgan said Palin was "good masturbation material", for which TNT apologized on live camera.
During a performance in Nashville, Tennessee, on June 3, 2011, Morgan made remarks about gay people, reportedly stating that if his son were gay, his son better speak to him like a man or he would "pull out a knife and stab" him. Morgan apologized, saying that he had "gone too far." NBC Entertainment head Bob Greenblatt stated, "I speak for NBC and myself personally when I say we do not condone hate or violence of any kind, and I am pleased to see Tracy Morgan apologizing for recent homophobic remarks in his standup appearance... Unfortunately, Tracy's comments reflect negatively on both 30 Rock and NBC — two very all-inclusive and diverse organizations — and we have made it clear to him that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated." Tina Fey, Morgan's boss both in fiction and in real life, said, "I'm glad to hear that Tracy apologized .... but the violent imagery of Tracy's rant was disturbing to me at a time when homophobic hate crimes continue to be a life-threatening issue for the LGBT community...the Tracy Morgan I know, ...is not a hateful man and [would never] hurt another person. I hope for his sake that Tracy's apology will be accepted as sincere by his gay and lesbian co-workers at 30 Rock, without whom Tracy would not have lines to say, clothes to wear, sets to stand on, scene partners to act with or a printed-out paycheck from accounting to put in his pocket."
On June 25, 2011, during a show at Caroline's in New York City, Morgan made comments about disabled children, saying, "Don't ever mess with women who have retarded kids," and referred to a woman as "a cripple." Peter Bernes, CEO of The Arc, an organization supporting people with disabilities stated, "Tracy Morgan should apologize immediately. This quote is far too offensive to be excused as comedy, and it is very hurtful to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Mr. Morgan has an incredibly powerful platform from which to fix this, and if he's learned anything in the last few weeks, he can't bomb this apology.