Made his professional acting debut while still in high school in the Broadway production of Take a Giant Step and won the Donaldson Award for best newcomer of the year.
• Received an athletic-drama scholarship to New York University, where he played on the varsity basketball team.
• Was invited to try out for the NBA's New York Knicks after graduating from NYU, but chose to pursue an acting career instead.
• Prepared for his Oscar-winning role in An Officer and a Gentleman by spending 10 days training at Camp Pendleton's school for drill instructors.
• Cowrote the protest song "Handsome Johnny" with Richie Havens, who performed it at Woodstock in 1969.
• In 2006, founded the Eracism Foundation, a nonprofit working to eliminate racism.
• Wrote an autobiography, An Actor and a Gentleman, which was published in 2010.