Drake has been on our TV sets and radios since 2001 thanks to his role on "Degrassi: The Next Generation" and five albums he's released since 2010. As the Canadian-American rapper turns 32 on Oct. 24, 2018, Wonderwall.com is taking a look at the prolific musician's life in photos — the awards, the ladies and the unforgettable performances.
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Aubrey Drake Graham was born in Toronto to father Dennis Graham, a Catholic, African-American drummer from Tennessee, and Sandra Sher, an Ashkenazi Jewish teacher from Canada. He's said his early years were far from a middle-class existence. "We rented someone's basement and the first floor. I didn't have some mansion, I grew up with a mother that was deep in debt because she wanted the best for her family," Drake revealed on CBC in 2013. "Being biracial was tougher in Forest Hill than in the west end of the city. But I made friends as I could. I had a tough time, I definitely had a tough time."
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When Drake was 5 years old, his parents split. His mom raised him in Canada while his father moved back to the States. "My mother is an incredible woman," Drake gushed in 2013. "She's brought me to this point single-handedly… She's the most important person in my life."
Growing up in Toronto, Drake — seen here goofing around with some of his childhood friends in a throwback photo he posted on Instagram in 2014 — played right wing in hockey for the Weston Red Wings. "I ended up making it to Upper Canada College hockey camp, which is where good kids get sent," he told ESPN in 2010. "And then I got cross checked in the neck and my mother wouldn't let me play anymore."
At 14, Drake — who was credited as Aubrey Graham — landed a role as Jimmy Brooks on Canadian channel CTV's "Degrassi: The Next Generation," a part he played from 2001 to 2007. The story of his audition reads like a soap-opera plot line. "It was like a real pivotal day in my life because it was the first audition I went on, so that's already a monumental thing. It was also the day that I got accepted by these like really cool Jewish kids at school, and they were finally like, 'Yo, come over,'" Drake explained to Jimmy Fallon in 2014. "I had this really tug-of-war moment where I actually did something that I probably shouldn't have done that starts with a 'W' and ends with 'eed.' That was my first time [smoking], and we did it out of a starts with a 'B' ends with a 'ong.'… It was crazy because I started really getting paranoid, I thought I'd just completely ruined my life, I started splashing water on my face constantly, it was like a Clearasil commercial! I showed up to the audition and got just a little less paranoid, went in and did what I could, was just devastated, I couldn't tell my mom."
After spending years on Canadian TV, Drake — seen here with "Degrassi: The Next Generation" co-stars Cassie Steele, Shane Kippel and Shenae Grimes in 2007 — was torn between acting and music. "Back then, I'd spend a full day on set and then go to the studio to make music until 4 or 5 a.m. I'd sleep in my dressing room and then be in front of the cameras again by 9 a.m. Eventually, they realized I was juggling two professions and told me I had to choose," Drake told W Magazine in 2015. "I chose this life."
Drake's transition from actor to rapper was more than seamless — it was wildly successful. In 2009, he debuted his song "Best I Ever Had" and record labels entered a bidding war to sign him. In the end, Drake went with Lil Wayne's Young Money Entertainment in June 2009. He's seen here performing on stage in New York City just days before he signed. In 2012, Drake inked a deal for his own label, OVO Sound, a subsidiary of Warner Music Group.
In 2009, Drake was nominated for his first two Grammys. (He's since scored 35 total nominations!) His debut song, "Best I Ever Had," did not win either best rap solo performance or best rap song, but he's gone on to win three Grammys since with "Hotline Bling" and "Take Care." Drake is seen here at the Grammy Nominations Concert in Los Angeles on Dec. 2, 2009.
Throughout their careers, Drake and Nicki Minaj have collaborated on a number of songs, including 2010's "Moment 4 Life" and "Up All Night." Their relationship extended from the stage when the friends and collaborators pretended to get married on Twitter in the summer of 2010 (they're seen here performing together that November). "I'd marry Nicki," Drake confessed to ELLE in 2011, long after the two "annulled" their Twitter marriage. "I think Nicki would be one of the only people that would understand me at the end of all this and be able to love me."
Drake might have said he'd marry Nicki Minaj, but Rihanna is the music star who's his ultimate dream girl. The two, pictured here performing "What's My Name" at the Grammys in 2011 (two years after they were first spotted making out at a New York City bowling alley), have collaborated, dated and flirted on and off ever since she split from Chris Brown in 2009.
Drake raised eyebrows and sparked rumors that he was romantically involved with tennis great Serena Williams after he started attending her matches in 2011 (he's seen here watching Serena at the Rogers Cup in Toronto in August 2011). Dating rumors persisted for years.
Drake won the first of his three Grammys — best rap album for "Take Care" — at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 10, 2013.
In August 2013, Drake was enlisted to perform at Kylie Jenner's sweet 16 birthday party as a surprise. Big sister Kim Kardashian West and husband Kanye West — who would later have a dramatic falling out with Drake — set it up and had Drizzy perform "Versace" for a crowd that included Kylie's sister Kendall Jenner and Jaden Smith. Drake has continued a friendship with the famous family since then, attending Kris Jenner's famed Christmas Eve party where he photobombed the momager and Kylie Cosmetics mogul in their photo booth.
Drake made headlines in April 2015 when Madonna surprised him with a huge, juicy kiss onstage at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival. After fans interpreted his reaction — after the liplock, he shouted out, "What the f— just happened?" — as disgust, Drake took to Instagram to do damage control, captioning a snapshot of the wild moment, "Don't misinterpret my shock!! I got to make out with the queen Madonna and I feel 100 about that forever. Thank you @madonna."
In October 2015, Drake premiered his music video for "Hotline Bling" — the lead single from his fourth studio album, "Views" — and it quickly became a pop culture sensation. (It was even spoofed for a T-Mobile Super Bowl commercial in February 2016, pictured.) While people mocked his dance moves in the video, the song was successful, winning two Grammys. However, Drake wasn't so thrilled with the win. "I'm a black artist, I'm apparently a rapper, even though 'Hotline Bling' is not a rap song," he said on Apple's Beats 1 Radio. "The only category that they can manage to fit me in is in a rap category, maybe because I've rapped in the past or because I'm black."
Charity is a big part of Drake's life. He made dreams come true when he visited 14-year-old Megan Flores in 2016 through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Drake captured the visit — Rihanna tagged along — on social media. "This is the best Snapchat I've ever done before," the rapper said in a post in which he kissed Megan on the cheek. "It's all love." Unfortunately, the teen passed away a few months later. Her idol paid tribute to her on social media. "Rest in peace my angel," Drake captioned an Instagram photo of Megan. "I know heaven is celebrating today."
Drake gushed about Rihanna — with whom he'd continued to collaborate (and lust after) — very publicly when presenting her with the Video Vanguard Award at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards. "She's someone I've been in love with since I was 22 years old, she's one of my best friends in the world," the rapper said on stage. "All my adult life, I've looked up to her even though she's younger than me. She's a living, breathing legend in our industry."
At the 2016 American Music Awards, Drake reunited with his old "Degrassi: The Next Generation" co-star Nina Dobrev when she presented him with the trophy for favorite rap/hip hop album. "We've come a long way, you know. Congratulations on all your success!" he told the "Vampire Diaries" actress after taking the stage. The two got together again in June 2018 — along with many more of their "Degrassi" co-stars — when Drake asked them to star in his high school reunion-themed video for "I'm Upset," the first hit off his 2018 album "Scorpion," which also produced the epic track "In My Feelings."
Just before Jennifer Lopez started dating retired baseball star Alex Rodriguez, she had a short fling with Drake. The two, pictured here backstage at one of his concerts in December 2016, stayed mum about their romance, only speaking out about music. "He just asked me to do a song with him and that's what we've been doing," J.Lo told "Entertainment Tonight" in 2017.
Drake became unlikely friends with teenaged "Stranger Things" star Millie Bobby Brown — who's 17 years his junior — when they met at one of his concerts in Australia in 2017. A year later — they're seen here at a 2018 Golden Globes afterparty — Millie sparked controversy when she told W Magazine, "We talk all the time. I ask his advice." At the 2018 Emmys, she raised eyebrows again when she told "Access Hollywood" that the rapper gives her advice about boys. "He's a great friend and a great role model," she said. "We just texted each other the other day. He was like, 'I miss you so much,' I was like, 'I miss you more,' he's great."
In May 2018, Drake made headlines when he got a warning from the NBA over his use of bad language after he talked smack to a member of LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers when they played Drake's hometown Toronto Raptors in Canada. Five months later, Drake sat down with LeBron for the athlete's HBO show, "The Shop," and told him all about the major drama that went down with Kanye West around the same time. Drake claimed that Kanye had, as TMZ put it, "lured" him to Wyoming to record music in the spring only to stab him in the back and betray his trust. Drake said he confessed to Kanye — who broke code and put out music right when Drake was dropping his "Scorpion" album in June 2018 despite claims he wasn't close to releasing an album — that he had a secret son with French porn star-turned-artist Sophie Brussaux. According to Drake, Kanye then told his artist, Pusha T, about Drake's son (Adonis, who was born in late 2017), which led to a notorious diss track that exposed Drake's secret and attempted to shame him before he himself could tell the world. But days later, Pusha claimed it wasn't Kanye who spilled the baby tea but a woman who was dating Drake's best friend and producer Noah "40" Shebib, who'd told her about the infant. "Pillow talking kills everybody," Pusha said on Joe Budden's podcast.