Best known for directing the groundbreaking 1991 film Boyz n the Hood, he later went on to direct the films Poetic Justice, Shaft, Four Brothers and 2 Fast 2 Furious.
He attended the USC School of Cinematic Arts, where he was a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.
He had a small role as the character Detroit J in the 2003 film Baadasssss!
He was married six times, including to actress Akosua Gyamama Busia from 1996-1997. He had a total of seven children; his daughter Cleopatra appeared in Baby Boy.
He directed hip-hop star Ice Cube in his first film role, playing the lead character Doughboy in Boyz n the Hood.