A big bear of a man — dripping in bling, covered in tattoos, and sporting his trademark bushy beard — Rick Ross stands as the Don Corleone of Southern rap, as well as one of hip hop's most imposing figures. Born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, on January 28, 1978, and raised in Miami, Florida, William Leonard Roberts II attended Albany State University on an American Football scholarship before starting to perform in the mid-1990s and cutting his teeth as a side man for Trick Daddy. Naming himself after the notorious LA drug lord Freeway Rick Ross, he sparked a record company bidding war with his 2006 debut single, "Hustlin'," and soon signed to Jay-Z's Def Jam label. His debut album, Port of Miami, was released that same year and shot to Number 1 in the US. His deep, growling vocals and strutting gangsta persona helped subsequent albums like Trilla (2008), Deeper Than Rap (2009) and God Forgives, I Don't (2012) all top the charts. With a tougher sound than most of his contemporaries, he remained a Top 10 artist throughout the 2010s, earning platinum hits with singles like 2016's "Purple Lamborghini" and 2019's "Gold Roses." He then kickstarted a new decade with 2021's Richer Than I Ever Been, which debuted at Number 5 on Billboard's Top Rap Albums chart.