“Believe nothing. No matter where you read it, or who said it, even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” – Buddha
Russell Wendell Simmons (born October 4, 1957) is an American business magnate. He co-founded the hip hop music label Def Jam and created the clothing fashion lines Phat Farm, Argyleculture, and American Classics. Simmons has been described as the third richest figure in hip hop, having a net-worth estimate of $340 million in 2011.
Early life and education
Simmons was raised in Queens, New York. Simmon’s father is a public school administrator, and his mother, a New York City park administrator. His brothers are painter Daniel Simmons, Jr., and Rev Run of Run-DMC.
In 1975, after graduating from August Martin High School, Simmons briefly attended the City College of New York in Harlem.
In 1985 Russell Simmons co-produced and appeared in the film, Krush Groove. Simmons’ company, Rush Communications, Inc. includes, Def Jam, Phat Farm, a movie production house, television shows such as HBO’s Def Comedy Jam, a magazine and an advertising agency. Simmons co-founded Def Jam with Rick Rubin who sold his share of the company for $100 million to Universal Music Group in 1996. In 2000, he co-founded the Internet start-up 360 Hip Hop which he later sold to BET. Simmons was the star of the 2010 reality TV show Running Russell Simmons. He is majority shareholder of the website Global Grind.
Simmons met then-17-year-old, model Kimora Lee in November 1992. They dated for four years and married on December 20, 1998  on the island of Saint Barthélemy. They had 2 daughters, Ming Lee (born 2000) and Aoki Lee (born 2002). In March 2006, Simmons announced his divorce from Kimora.
Simmons lived with his wife and family in a Saddle River, New Jersey home that covered 35,000 square feet (3,300 m2).
Russell Simmons has been vegan since 1998 and advocates the adoption of practicing Ahimsa and veganism citing animal rights along with the environmental and health benefits. Simmons is a supporter of Farm Sanctuary, an organization working to end cruelty to farm animals. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals awarded him with the 2001 PETA Humanitarian Award and the 2011 Person of the Year Award.
Simmons became Chairman of Board of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding in 2002. In May 2009, he was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Slavery Memorial at the United Nations to honor the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. In a similar vein, Simmons is a supporter of the Somaly Mam Foundation, and was honored at their 2011 gala dinner. Simmons officially endorses the second Muslim Jewish Conference 2011. Together with Rabbi Marc Schneier he served as the official patron of the conference held July 2011 in Kiev, Ukraine. In 2011, he took part in the Occupy Wall Street protests, visiting the protestors at Zuccotti Park often and for many consecutive days.
Simmons is also a long-time supporter for gay rights. He encourages marriage equality. In 2011, when Lowe’s withdrew funding from the show All-American Muslim, Simmons promised to pay the Learning Channel for any revenue lost.
In 2012, Simmons supported Ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich’s re-election campaign, appearing with the politician at various speaking events. “We can’t afford to lose Dennis, because he is the voice of Main Street Americans and progressive politics,” Simmons said in a statement. In November 2013, he pledged support for New York’s mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio in recognition of his support for animal rights.
In January 2011 he stated in an interview that he is not a Buddhist as previously reported, but is a non-religious practitioner of Yoga, where he prays to the Ātman, or the self. Simmons practices a method of Yoga known as Jivamukti Yoga, which encourages vegetarianism and social and environmental activism.
Simmons is a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation (TM) and a supporter of the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace, which was established to ensure that any child in America who wants to learn and practice TM can do so.
Russell also co-wrote Do You-12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success with Chris Morrow in 2007.
On January 4, 2011 he published the book Super Rich: A Guide to Having It All, which espouses giving as a lifestyle choice.