Ice-T Opens Up About His Health, the Drink He Gave Up for Good, and His Unexpected Deal with Dr. Dre

Updated: Sep. 14, 2023

The beloved tough guy on stage and screen shares how, in 23 seasons of starring on Law & Order: SVU, he's never called in sick.

Ice-T’s got that warm persona underneath, but on the surface, he’s known for playing cool—”You don’t get named ‘Ice’ by being high-strung,” he told us. Ice-T has spent the end of summer celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop as part of LL Cool J’s F.O.R.C.E. Tour. When he got a break this past week, Ice-T reveals that he rolled up his sleeve for his annual flu shot.

In fact, the veteran rapper, who is also beloved for his role as Detective Fin on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, says he’s gotten his flu shot for the past ​20-plus years—one of the reasons he’s never called in sick since he debuted on the series in 2000.

Like most of us, the 65-year-old has suffered through the flu enough to decide he’s not willing to roll the dice if he can avoid it. “Being sick sucks,” he says. “It drags you around the house and makes the toughest gangster feel like a child.”

This is why Ice-T joined forces with Sanofi and the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists for a national flu campaign highlighting the risks associated with the flu, especially for vulnerable populations. This week in New York City, Ice-T sat down with The Healthy @Reader’s Digest about his passion for this flu shot campaign, the number-one reason he insists on staying healthy, and why he loves getting older.

Ice-T Flu ShotCourtesy
Ice-T receives his flu shot from Shannon Constantine, RPh, Director of Pharmacy, LI Script, American Society of Consultant Pharmacists. Courtesy Sanofi.

Why Ice-T wants us all to get a flu shot

The Healthy @Reader’s Digest: Should we be surprised to learn that Ice-T keeps up with his annual flu shot?

Ice-T: When you shoot movies and television, if you get sick, it’s like a domino effect. I might be in a scene with someone who flew in from Los Angeles and if can’t work that day, [it] throws everyone off schedule ’cause you only had that one day to work. It’s bad.

The Healthy: Any home remedies you swear by if you do get sick?

Ice-T: I do a lot of fluids and chicken soup. You can’t go wrong with chicken soup and hot tea. That works. Mostly, I just want bed rest.

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The Healthy: All of those are scientifically shown to be great choices. Besides getting your annual flu shot, what else do you do to stay healthy?

Ice-T: I am not a health food cat. I eat everything in moderation. I try to pull back off sugar. I used to be a big Kool-Aid guy, but now I take a lot more water and [consume] less sugar. I am not an extremely exercise-based person, but I do work out. I just keep moving. The key to my youth is actually staying active. If I sit around for a week, I feel like I aged three years.

The Healthy: What’s your motivation to keep on moving?

Ice-T: I want to stay alive, and I want to stay healthy. I have a seven-year-old child [with his wife of 22 years, Coco]. When she was born, the first thing that came to my mind is, I can’t die.

They say when a man has a child, the second half of his life resets. There is no slowing down and no retirement. I have to stay in there. My daughter has given me the second wind that I needed.

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The Healthy: You have openly discussed your family history of heart disease. How is your health these days?

Ice-T: You don’t know if you have any underlying medical conditions. Fortunately, I don’t have any health ailments. I have done all the tests I could on myself. I have dealt with high blood pressure at different times and was able to lower blood pressure just by really lowering stress levels.

The Healthy: How did you do that?

Ice-T: Stress is caused by giving a f*%$. I learned to only care about the things that are important. I don’t carry other people’s stress. I deal with my personal family and [my life], and it’s lowered my stress a lot. I am so low-key it bothers people. My name is Ice. You don’t get named “Ice” by being high-strung.

The Healthy: Did you ever imagine you would be a health advocate?

Ice-T: I didn’t think I was going to live out of my twenties. Early when I was growing up, I was living such a wild life on the streets, so now at this point, to be 65 and still acting, touring, and in decent shape, why not? Going from being such a hard-core rapper and now being somebody who people go to for health advice is interesting.

The Healthy: In Hollywood, many people hide their age, but you’re open about yours. Why?

Ice-T: It’s not about being 50 and trying to be 40, it’s about trying to be badass at 50 and 60. Too many people are reaching for the past. Just be the best you can be at that age. I am proud to be 65. I am proud because that’s the game. The game is to live. Don’t be upset with your age, embrace it. Me and Dr. Dre promise to blow out 100 candles.