LL Cool J was raised by his maternal grandparents after his mother and father split up when he was a child, and they influenced and inspired him to become a musician. Through all the years they raised LL, there was a very big secret in their family history that they hid from him, according to ABC News.
On PBS’ Finding Your Roots, the rapper discovers that his mother, Ondrea Griffith, was adopted in 1947 by his grandparents, Eugene Griffith and Ellen Hightower. LL learned of this news, as well as a 19th-century record of his family’s freedom from slavery, from the show’s host, Henry Louis Gates Jr. via a phone conversation. Gates thought it would be too much to spring the DNA evidence on him for the cameras.
“This doesn’t change how I feel about the people that raised me,” the NCIS: Los Angeles actor said of his grandparents on the show. “I have more love and respect for them than I ever did.” LL’s mother, who appears in the episode, says that she understands that her parents “had their reasons” for not telling her son about the adoption.
This episode will also trace the roots of Sean “Diddy” Combs, and the episode will air on Feb. 16, one day after LL Cool J is set to host the Grammy Awards for the fifth time.