Marion "Suge" Knight, Jr. (born April 19, 1965) is the co-founder and former CEO of Death Row Records. The record label rose to dominate the rap charts after Dr. Dre's breakthrough album The Chronic in 1992. After several years of chart successes for artists including Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Tha Dogg Pound, Death Row Records stagnated after Knight's incarceration on parole violation charges in September 1996.
Marion Knight Willams was born in Compton, California. His name, Suge (pronounced /ˈʃʊɡ/), derives from "Sugar Bear", a childhood nickname. He attended Lynwood High School then graduated and got a football scholarship to University of Nevada, Las Vegas where he play collegiate football for several years. After school, he played professionally for the Los Angeles Rams as a replacement player during the 1987 NFL strike. Later, he found work as a concert promoter and a bodyguard for celebrities including Bobby Brown. Knight's legal problems began in 1987 when he faced auto theft, concealed weapon and attempted murder charges, ultimately receiving probation. Two years later, he formed his own music-publishing company, and allegedly made his first big fortune in the business by coercing Vanilla Ice into signing over royalties from his smash hit "Ice Ice Baby" owing to material that he supposedly sampled from one of Knight's company associates. (The possibly apocryphal story holds that Knight held Ice by his ankles off of a 20th-floor balcony, though in Ice's version, the threat was more implied.) Knight next formed an artist management company and signed prominent West Coast hip hop artists The D.O.C. and DJ Quik.
Through the former, he met several members of the seminal gangsta rap group N.W.A. In 1993, Suge would have a son, Andrew, born on April 19, sharing the same birthday as him. Andrew is currently living in the Greater Los Angeles area with his mother, "Tia". Another son, Taj, is said to be living in Atlanta with his mother, Davina Barnes. He also has daughters named Posh and Bailei, the latter with R&B singer Michel'le.