How did LL Cool J get his name?

LL Cool J was born James Todd Smith.

In a VH1 documentary (Planet Rock: the Story of Hip Hop and the Crack Generation), LL Cool J, at 14 years of age, revealed that he initially wanted to call himself J-Ski but did not want to associate his stage name with the cocaine culture (the rappers who use "Ski" or "Blow" as part of their stage name e.g., Kurtis Blow, Joeski Love were associated with the rise of the cocaine culture as depicted in the 1983 remake of Scarface).

In 1984, under his new stage name, LL Cool J (an abbreviation for Ladies Love Cool James), Smith was signed by Def Jam, which led to the release of his first official record, the 12-inch single "I Need a Beat".