Why the Ingredients of Ice-T and Coco Austin's Love Story Make for the Perfect Blend

Together for 22 years and parents to daughter Chanel, Ice-T and Coco Austin found each other at the right time and got the keys to their partnership sorted out early.

By Natalie Finn Mar 17, 2023 12:00 PMTags
Watch: Ice-T's Wife Coco Sobs After Dropping Off Daughter Chanel at School

Simplicity has its charms.

"I let him do the man thing, and I do the woman thing," Coco Austin told TVGuide.com in 2012 when asked for the secret to her lasting relationship with Ice-T, at the time her husband of 11 years. "Old-fashioned works."

And, of course, weekend date nights were important. "Especially Sundays, we'll get dressed up for each other and we'll go to the movies or out to dinner or something. We make it special," Coco said. Then, at home, she'd make it extra-special. "I like to try to make my home kind of like a club atmosphere for him and get in a super-sexy outfit," she continued. "Sometimes I make it kind of like a strip club, and I'll get sexy and dance for him. Just make it all him."

But while their life together has certainly had its ripped-from-a-rap-song moments, overall they're just a devoted pair who figured out a formula that worked for them early on.

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On the March 5, 2020, episode of the Behind the Baller podcast, Ice-T cited "compromise" when host Ben "Baller" Yang inquired about the tricks to his "long and strong" marriage.

"It's hard enough to get along—we're humans and humans are f--ked up creatures," the rapper and Law & Order: SVU star, born Tracy Lauren Marrow, explained. "First you have to admit how f--ked up you are without anybody around...Then you look at your wife and you go, 'I love you for dealin' with my s--t.'" And, echoing his wife's long-ago assessment, he advised appreciating your lady's differences. "Let her be a woman...Appreciate what a woman is."

Then, of course, there's the fact that she's the "most incredible person" he's ever met, as the 64-year-old said in a video played during Coco's Nov. 22 appearance on Tamron Hall. She's "the nicest person I've ever met," he continued, "and the best mother Chanel that anyone could possibly imagine. I love you to death."

And it sounds as though he's been doing the work too.


"Time flies when you're having fun.. literally!! My love for you has gotten stronger year after year..," Coco, who's celebrating her 44th birthday March 17, tweeted Dec. 31. "Thank you for all the wonderful decades we've had together! I'm so blessed for our beautiful family.. Cheers to many more #22anniversary I love you baby."

Ice-T posted a photo from their wedding, captioned, "To my incredible Wife and Love of my life @Coco 'Getting married is like casting for a Movie. Ya gotta find someone who is ready for ALL the scenes… The Good, bad, ups and downs.' 22yrs and still going Strong as F. I Love You."

The previous year, he shared a pic that he says was taken the moment they first met in 2001. "Look at my face...lol," he wrote, making sure we noticed his gobsmacked expression.

But as he has also said on many occasions, it was all in the timing.

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Ice-T had been watching The Osbournes on MTV and thinking that it might be nice to settle down, that there was no way Ozzy Osbourne would be living that relatively stable domestic life in a Beverly Hills mansion if not for his missus, Sharon Osbourne.

"You know what they say, when a woman finds the right man, it's the right time," he said on Behind the Baller. "When a man hits the right time, he'll find the right woman."

So there he was, at a party in Atlantic City, when he first laid eyes on his future wife, one memorable part of her at a time.

"It was her teeth, they were the first things I saw," he recalled to MailOnline in 2012. "And then I saw her boobs. And then," he added with a reported laugh, "when she turned around, that big butt."

In turn, "There was an instant physical attraction," he continued, "but I was at a point in my life where I was ready to slow down. I wanted a partner. I wasn't in a position to be dating a beautiful psychopath."


While Coco's never shied away from showing off the curves she's so proud of (curves she's still in the gym weight-training multiple days a week to maintain), Ice-T definitely had the wrong idea about the then-22-year-old.

"Honestly, I thought she was too pretty to be, as you would say, 'domesticated,'" he told PR.com in 2011. "Like, can we fit at home or is this a girl who just wants to party? But she was like, 'No, I'm ready. Let's just go snuggle someplace and do home stuff.'"

Wary at first, "I applied the stereotype that everyone does to Coco—that she just wanted to party and have a good time," he further admitted to MailOnline. "But she was just an honest and giving woman. She's the nicest person, man or woman, I've ever met." She even liked the red snakeskin suit he had on that night, he marveled.

Not that Ice-T was unfamiliar with the concept of people making assumptions.

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"People think he just walks around, like, wanting to murder people 'cause he's a gangsta rapper," Coco told TVGuide.com in 2012. But he was actually really "lovable and kind," she added, though "if you're trying to get the teddy bear reaction, he's not like that with everybody else."

Fortunata/Splash News

They married just a couple months after meeting and remain rooted on the East Coast, where Law & Order: SVU is filmed. Ice-T reported for work in 2000 planning to do four episodes and remains a star of the enduring NBC procedural, now in its 24th season, contentedly trading in Hollywood for the New Jersey suburbs.

The artist also took a cue from Ozzy when it came to handing the keys to the empire over to his fairer half.

"Behind the scenes Coco has actually been my personal assistant, similar to Sharon Osbourne and Ozzy, running all my businesses, all the logistics of tours and all that," he told PR.com in 2011. "Everything that I do other than act, Coco's on the phone making all those deals happen and doing everything that she's doing with her career, simultaneously. So I've got the easy job. I just go out and do the work and Coco handles all the business behind the scenes."

And Ice-T couldn't gush enough about his ride-or-die, saying, "She's sincere, she's sweet. She's not silly on a relationship level. She's goofy and playful, but she's very sincere. She means what she says, she didn't lie, she's honest and she wasn't materialistic. She was just like, 'If you treat me right, I'll treat you right.' That's pretty much the basis to any good deal, just treat each other right. She's lived up to the deal for the past 10 years."

Coco added, "And I wanted to become that ultimate woman for him. When I was around him for a couple weeks, I gathered all the facts of what he liked and what he didn't like, and I just shape-shifted into that woman for him."

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Which didn't mean she wasn't being herself, Ice-T pointed out, but rather, "when she finds somebody she loves, she just wants to do the best at it. I think what you do when you look at your mate, you're like, 'OK, well, these are some of the things they dig, this is how they like it, and it's not a problem. I can accommodate.' Hopefully the person you meet, what they want is you. But it's kind of like, 'Well I want somebody who can cook spaghetti.' Well then, you know what, I'm a f--kin' spaghetti cook, how about that! And that's when you say, 'Wow, we're a match here!'"

Kind of like Ice-T so effortlessly playing a cop, their marriage also defied expectations.

"People had certain preconceptions of us," he told MailOnline. "They thought I'd be burying bodies in the back garden and Coco would be off stripping at birthday parties. But we're a normal couple with a normal relationship and people are starting to see that."

Coco explained to the publication that the main reason why she wanted to do the E! show Ice Loves Coco was to prove that looks can be deceiving.

"I told him, 'Honey, you've been in the picture 30 years and I've been in the picture 10 years, [but] people didn't really get to see my personality and I was getting sick of hearing the negative stuff about me,'" she recounted. "I wanted them to see the other side—my family side, my wifey side. I had to talk him into it.'"


Ice-T was against the idea at first because he thought they were too boring—at least for reality TV. "We don't fight and there's none of that drama," he pointed out. And, of course, he'd seen what had happened to other couples who'd opened up their lives in that way. "I didn't want to jeopardize our relationship for any show," he noted, "or amp it up for the cameras."

But fans fell for Ice Loves Coco, which ran from 2011 to 2013, and ended up with an entirely new understanding of the pair. 

"People didn't get us as a couple," Ice-T said, "but the thing is, a loud woman is great for robbing a bank, but a tough, rowdy guy wants to be with a nice, gentle woman. Coco's gentle and sweet and nice. She's just an angel."

Coco told PR.com, "People just see me as a model and as the party girl because the only time paparazzi are out is usually when we go to red carpet events and you're wearing crazy outfits and going to the after-parties. They don't see what I do on a normal, regular basis." Sure, they had that "crazy relationship life where we go out, we party, and we have fun together as a couple. Then when we come home we relax. We play video games together, we watch DVDs together. We're very homey people that just like to chill."

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And, needless to say, starring in their own show for three seasons did not make Ice love Coco any less, or vice versa. (Though Ice-T thinks once was enough, telling In Touch Weekly in May 2021, "After a few seasons, normal people's lives loop, and you do the same things over and over, but that's not entertaining television.")

Looking back on their two decades together, "It's a beautiful thing," Ice-T reflected on Behind the Baller in 2020. "I've been very fortunate to have Coco in my corner. You know, all relationships have their ups and downs, they got their bulls--t, but if you really love somebody you're gonna pull through. I'm with Coco for the rest of the way out."

With a nod to the less family-friendly days of his past, he added, "I'm just lucky to have arrived at this place, because I never thought I was gonna make it."

In addition to his beloved wife, "this place" includes their 7-year-old daughter, Chanel, who at this stage of the game, Ice-T said, "is the best thing that could've happened to me." 


Which is one of the reasons why family-of-three time takes precedence these days over alone time as a couple—though they make sure to pencil that in.

"At the end of the night we turn our bed into the family bed," Coco said on E!'s Daily Pop in August 2021. In turn, "Sexy time is kind of iffy...But we schedule those times in. We have a dog handler to take the dogs, we have a babysitter. It is so worth it because it is not going to last forever. Her being little like this is not going to last forever."

She additionally said on the Moms Like Us podcast around the same time, "This works for us and it makes us happy. And again, we only have one child and we like the feeling of the cuddliness and watching TV at night and bringing it together, because our lives are so sporadic during the day. We're not the normal couple. We're always on the go, so at night, bringing it in with our family, that's our alone time without the world, we're like in our little bubble. And Chanel has her own room, she can go in there whenever she wants and she takes her little naps, but we just like our alone time with the family."


Ice-T is also father to a 46-year-old daughter, Latesha Marrow, and 31-year-old son, Ice Tracy Marrow Jr., from previous relationships, but he told Baller that he was "presents over present" for his first child's life and, when his second was born, "I was tryin' to be a star. I took care of him and his mother, but I wasn't as focused."

By the time Chanel was born, he was fully there for Coco. "There's nothing else in life I could've got that was gonna be as exciting, as appreciated, as Chanel," he said.

And the same went for Coco, who first had to weather years of the usual pregnancy speculation that dogs pretty much all women, let alone famous ones, when they settle down with a partner. She shared some of the journey, including a moment when she thought she might be expecting and was surprisingly (to her) disappointed to find out she wasn't, on Ice Loves Coco.

Then, when she found out she was having a daughter...

"I've been underneath the roof of a male-dominated house forever," the model blogged for E! News in September 2015. "Ice-T is very male. The dogs are very male. I was like, God give me a girl so I can liven things up with some cute fashion. I can have a personal doll. So God answered my prayer and I got a little girl, so why the hell not would I want to dress her up?"

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When she announced Chanel Nicole's birth on Nov. 28, 2015, Coco shared, "Ice and I are so proud! I cried while she was coming out I was so excited to meet her!"

Mother and daughter have been inseparable ever since, Chanel quickly becoming her mom's adorably dressed mini-me. Ice-T acknowledged as much when he told In Touch that Chanel would be heading to school soon and it was going to be "a very emotional day"—for Coco.

He reiterated that give-and-take in a relationship is key, explaining, "We address problems quickly. She doesn't say, 'I'm mad at you from last month.' How am I supposed to fix something if I didn't know it was broken? And we compromise. If you want to win every argument and do whatever you want to do, there's a name for that—it's called being single!"

And while he's been grateful to her for having his back, Ice-T has been in his wife's corner, as well, such as when the Internet has come for her parenting choices. Her revelation last summer that she was still breastfeeding then-5-year-old Chanel—"She just likes a little snack every now and then"—really set 'em off.


"News Flash! We feed Chanel FOOD... She just likes to suck moms boob every now and then... Me Too!!!" Ice-T tweeted in response to Coco's critics, then dove into the comments with, "Why the F are you worried about MY Child??? That's what's weird.. Now go back in the basement."

Seemingly unfazed by the backlash and appreciating her husband's defense tactics, Coco quipped on Daily Pop, "Well, he loves the boobs, too. He's got one side, she's got the other. She's going to be a boob freak."

More seriously, she continued, "I just don't believe society says they should stop at two [years old]. 'You as a mother should stop because they said so.' I'm [not] going to stop because I feel like it's a great bonding experience between her and I. She's my only child, it's not like I have a big family of kids, and so I'm savoring every moment with this child."

As for Ice, Coco added, "he believes in everything I believe." (And, finally, that includes TikTok.)

When the actor appeared on The View on Sept. 30, 2021, the hosts asked him about more vitriol directed at his wife over a photo of Chanel sporting French nail tips for school picture day.

"Rule 1: Do not pay attention to anything anyone says on the Internet," Ice-T advised. "Worry about the people who walk up to you and say things in your real life. Those are the people you should be concerned with. The internet is the world. It's the world talking."


"Everybody parents differently," he continued. "Every house has its own constitution. We're doing okay. Our baby's okay." (An Insta from March 2022 showing Ice-T playing a video game while Chanel enjoyed a little tablet time and one of their pups lazed next to them would attest to that. "'Original Gangster' This is what my down time looks like… Gangster as F! lol," he wrote.)

And he and Coco are more than OK.

"Lol… I love how the white dude looked at me then took time to check Coco out…," Ice-T wrote in calling out a nearby audience member who sneaked a peek at Coco during the Grammys. "I TOTALLY understand."

As he said on Behind the Baller about meeting his match, "It's a great thing when it happens."

(Originally published March 17, 2022, at 4 a.m. PT)