Terrence Howard Reveals Witnessing His Father Stab A Man To Death

Movies & TV

As talented as he is troubled, the star of FOX’s unexpected hit Empire, Terrence Howard opens up to Rolling Stone to detail his traumatic childhood.

Howard, who achieved box office success with films such as Crash (2005) and Hustle & Flow (2005), said he was 2 years old when he saw his father Tyrone, then 21, stab a man to death while they waited in line to see Santa Claus.

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His unemployed father got into an argument at a Cleveland department store about who was next. Tyrone was accused of skipping a man with three kids, with three of his own, including little Terrence. The argument erupted and Tyrone somehow got a hold of nail file. He stabbed the man until he fell, then fled the scene, leaving Terrence, his siblings and his mother Anita. The gruesome crime made national news and was dubbed “The Santa Line Slaying”

“I was standing next to my father, watching,” Howard said. “Then stuff happened so quickly — blood was on the coats, on our jackets — and then my dad’s on a table and then my dad is gone to prison.”

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Despite his father serving 11 months in prison for the crime, Howard says they still maintained a relationship.

“My daddy taught me, ‘Never take the vertebrae out of your back or the bass out of your throat. I ain’t raisin’ sheep. I raised men. Stay a man.’ But being a man comes with a curse because it’s not a society made for men to flourish anymore. Everything is androgynous, you know? The more successful men now are the effeminate.”

The interviewer then switched gears and asked Howard about his temper and domestic violence past, to which The Best Man actor also spoke candidly about being arrested in 2001 for slapping his wife.

“She was talking to me real strong, and I lost my mind and slapped her in front of the kids,” he says. “Her lawyer said it was a closed fist, but even slapping her was wrong.”

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