Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr. was born in Long Beach, California to Vernall Varnado and Beverly Broadus (née Tate). Vernall, who was a Vietnam veteran, singer, and mail carrier, left the family only three months after Calvin's birth, and thus he was named after his stepfather, Calvin Cordozar Broadus Sr. His father remained largely absent from his life. As a boy, his parents nicknamed him "Snoopy" due to his love and likeness of the cartoon character from Peanuts. He was the second of his mother's three sons. His mother and stepfather divorced in 1975. When Broadus was very young, he began singing and playing piano at the Golgotha Trinity Baptist Church. In sixth grade, he began rapping. As a child, Broadus sold candy, delivered newspapers, and bagged groceries to help his family make ends meet. He was described as having been a dedicated student and enthusiastic churchgoer, active in choir and football. Broadus said in 1993 that he began engaging in unlawful activities and joining gangs in his teenage years, despite his mother's preventative efforts.