Kimora Lee Perkins was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Her mother, Joanne "Kyoko" Perkins, was born in Korea to a Japanese mother and adopted by a U. S. serviceman during the Korean War and raised in the U. S. She later worked as an administrator for Social Security. Kimora's father is African American. Her father, Vernon Whitlock Jr. , worked as a Federal Marshal, an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigator, a bail bondsman, and later became a barber in St. Louis. He was sentenced to prison when Kimora was in grade school for distribution of narcotics. It was substantiated in the U. S. District Court (Honorable Clyde Cahill) that government agents attempted to recruit Whitlock as an informant in exchange for probation, but he vehemently refused. Consequently, he was refused probation and was taken off his $500,000 bond and was given the 24-year sentence; he was released after five years. Her parents split up and she was raised by her mother.