LL COOL J
Hon­orary Degree: Doctor of Arts

LL COOL J is an enter­tain­ment icon who has found great suc­cess crossing into mul­tiple mediums. He is a two-​​time Grammy Award winner, recording artist, actor, author, NAACP Image Award winner, entre­pre­neur, and philanthropist.

LL—whose real name is James Todd Smith—began in the nascent, bur­geoning rap and hip-​​hop scene of the 1980s, which devel­oped into the musical and cul­tural phe­nom­enon that is today’s hip-​​hop. More than 25 years since he first burst onto the scene, LL con­tinues his vibrant, trail­blazing career. First intro­duced to the world in 1984 as a Def Jam Records flag­ship artist, he is the first rap artist to amass 10 con­sec­u­tive platinum-​​plus selling albums. The multi-​​platinum artist is cur­rently tied for third place for most Bill­board chart debuts by a rapper.

As an actor, he cur­rently stars in the top-​​rated CBS prime-​​time drama series, NCIS: Los Angeles. His per­for­mance on the show gar­nered him an NAACP Image Award four years in a row (2011–2014); he pre­vi­ously won an NAACP Image Award for “Out­standing Male Artist” in 2003. Over the years, he has also appeared in more than 30 films and starred oppo­site many acclaimed actors.

As an author, his works include The New York Times best­seller LL COOL J’s Plat­inum Workout and LL COOL J’s Plat­inum 360 Diet and Lifestyle; And the Winner Is, a children’s book that tells the story of a young bas­ket­ball player who learns the impor­tance of win­ning and losing grace­fully, which was part of Scholastic’s series of books and CDs by rap artists called ‘Hip Kid Hop’; and his 1997 auto­bi­og­raphy, I Make My Own Rules.

Expanding into the dig­ital world, LL has also founded Boomdizzle Net­works (www​.boomdizzle​.com), which inte­grates patented col­lab­o­ra­tive tech­nology with inno­v­a­tive dig­ital mar­keting to change how music is recorded, dis­trib­uted, and shared all over the world.

An avid phil­an­thropist, he’s been involved in numerous causes, including lit­eracy for kids as well as music and arts pro­grams in schools. Cel­e­brating its eighth anniver­sary, his charity Jump & Ball—which takes place every August in his home­town of Queens, N.Y.—aims to give back to his local com­mu­nity by offering a five-​​week ath­letic and team building pro­gram ded­i­cated to bringing whole­some fun to young people. He is also a member of the Red Cross Celebrity Cab­inet, which raises funds and aware­ness for ini­tia­tives tied to the organization.

LL COOL J, his wife, and family cur­rently reside in both New York and Los Angeles.