Best known as the soulful vocalist assisting Coolio on the smash single "Gangsta's Paradise," L.V. ("Large Variety") is perhaps even more remarkable for not only surviving being shot nine times at close range, spending eight months in the hospital and a year and a half in a wheelchair, but for recovering completely and being able to walk without a noticeable limp. L.V. grew up with a father who sang gospel music along with the radio every morning, and this helped hook him on singing. He won a high school talent contest by performing L.T.D.'s "Concentrate on You," joined the Los Angeles City College choir, and contributed R&B vocals to a neighborhood rap group, the South Central Cartel. Following his success with "Gangsta's Paradise," L.V. landed a fat contract with Tommy Boy Records, which released his debut album, I Am L.V., in late 1995. How Long followed five years later.