Cuba Gooding was born in Bronx, New York to Shirley, a singer with the Sweethearts, and Cuba Gooding, Sr., a lead vocalist of soul group The Main Ingredient. He has two brothers, musician Tommy Gooding and fellow actor Omar Gooding, and sister, April Gooding. His family moved to Los Angeles after Gooding Sr.'s music group had a hit single with "Everybody Plays the Fool" in 1972 but abandoned his family two years later. Gooding Jr. was raised by his mother and attended four different high schools: North Hollywood High School, Tustin High School, Apple Valley High School, and John F. Kennedy High School in Granada Hills in Los Angeles. He served as class president in three of them.
His first job as a professional entertainer was as a break-dancer performing with singer Lionel Richie at the closing ceremonies of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. After high school, Gooding studied Japanese martial arts for three years, before turning his focus toward acting. Early on, he landed gu