Saweetie’s link to her family is evident in the name she chose as her rap name. Born Diamonte Qiava Valentin Harper, Saweetie adopted her stage name from a pet name her grandmother used to call her. “People just started calling me Saweetie because they thought it was my real name, and I just let it stick,” Saweetie told Access.

The Icy Girl has developed in leaps and bounds since her breakthrough hit Icy Girl. Despite having familial connections that would have made her musical rise easier, Saweetie opted to do it alone. Let’s find out more about Saweetie’s parents and family.

Saweetie’s dad played football for San Jose State

Saweetie dad

Saweetie comes from an athletic family. Her grandfather played football for the San Francisco 49ers while her dad, Johnny Harper, played for San Jose State. Saweetie inherited her dad’s football skills, but her grandmother discouraged her from playing. Instead, Saweetie excelled in track and volleyball, and she almost competed professionally.

Eventually, Saweetie did get to play football as a quarterback for a powderpuff league. Saweetie’s parents had her when they were in their teens, and they were not around much in the early part of her childhood. She was mostly raised by her grandparents and her numerous uncles and aunts. She told The Line of Best Fit:

“I grew up in the Bay Area but I finished high school in Sacramento, which is why I claim both areas. I feel like both of them shaped me into the woman I am today. Growing up, it was a lot of fun because I have a really big family. I was an only child for like eleven years, like eleven years, so my brothers and sisters were like my cousins. And I’m half Asian half Black, so there was a big cultural difference.”

Saweetie was born when her mom was 17 years old

Jonathan, Saweetie  and Trinidad
Jerritt Clark/Getty Images

Saweetie’s Asian roots came from her Filipino-Chinese mom Trinidad Valentin. Trinidad was a video vixen for musicians such as L.L. Cool J, and she helped foster Saweetie’s love for poetry and music. Saweetie’s parents played music from R&B stars such as Tevin Campbell, Delfonics, and The Isley Brothers.

The musical influences at home helped Saweetie’s poetry skills, but she fell in love with rap when she heard J. Cole’s music. Saweetie’s parents didn’t offer her much growing up, and it’s the inspiration behind her desire to become as successful as she can. She told The Line of Best Fit:

“My mom was 17 when she had me, so my parents were always working, and my grandma took care of me. My mom and my dad both come from big families, too – nine of my dad’s side and seven on my mom’s side. We didn’t grow up rich, or at least I know I didn’t, which is why it feels good to make all this money, because I’ve never been able to just buy whatever I wanted to.”

Saweetie’s family offered to support her career but Saweetie chose to go it alone

Saweetie took her family by surprise when she dropped My Type. “[Family members] were all kind of upset at me, because they heard ‘My Type’ and was like, we didn’t know you was doing music,” Saweetie revealed during an episode of Desus and Mero.

Saweetie’s family offered their support, but she wanted to make it independently. “‘We see you and if you need our help, please let us know,’” Saweetie’s family members told her.

“So I appreciate the support, but for me, I’ve always been self-motivated. So instead of asking for help, I just wanted to see if I could do it on my own.”

Saweetie’s most famous relative is her cousin, actor Gabrielle Union. Gabrielle is a regular commenter on Saweetie’s Instagram posts. Saweetie told Access that she wishes she had the same privacy Union had when she made her breakthrough many years ago:

“I love when she [Union] compares this industry I’m currently in to when she broke in and the different is just – for one, they had more privacy. At times I feel like I was born in a different time period because I love my privacy and I wish I could have lived back then – when people actually respected people’s space.”