Lawrence Taylor was born on February 4, 1959, in Williamsburg, Virginia. He grew up in a four-room
frame house on the outskirts of the restored colonial village. Hailing from a middle-class environment, Taylor was the middle brother of three, and his parents have remembered his early years as active ones. Taylor was physical even as a small child. "He liked to hit," his father Clarence told New York Times Magazine. His mother made Taylor spend hours working at chores around the house to keep him occupied, sweeping the floors, carrying in groceries.
At age nine, Taylor wrote down that he wanted to be famous and to be a millionaire before he reached 30. But he'd have to do it in some other way, because he was not a very diligent student, and although bright, he never turned on to what was offered him in the public education system.
Taylor wanted to play little league football, but his mother was worried about the dangers of the sport, so she signed him up for little league baseball, where he was an all-star for four summers in the position of catcher. As a catcher, just as he later did as a linebacker, he was able to survey all that was happening on the field. (In his later life he would say he loved the position of linebacker because "you control the game from there," much like the catcher does in baseball by calling the pitches and reading the field.)
Lawrence's high school coach, Mel Jones, had to do little to convince Taylor that football, not baseball, would be a great opportunity for him. He said that football was how he could earn a college scholarship, telling him that, "If you were black and from the rural South, you thought about football the way other kids thought about careers in law or medicine."
LT (as he came to be known later on with the New York Giants) continued to grow, and the summer between his junior and senior years in high school he grew five inches and added 30 pounds. That senior year of high school was as if a switch had turned on. "He was out to do something," Paul Raynes told the New York Times Magazine. "It was like he was saying 'I'm going to be great.'"