Most people will remember him from three major roles: Kunta Kinte from "Roots", Geordi La Forge from ST: TNG and the Reading Rainbow guy. All three roles had a huge impact on my childhood and growing up in general. Reading Rainbow taught me the importance of reading and finding knowledge anywhere I can. Roots was an important series for me identifying where my people came from. And, TNG was well Star Trek.
He moved into directing and actually becoming a serious director at that.
I can't believe he's 53 years old. Damn, TNG was a long time ago wasn't it?
Anyway, happy birthday, LaVar. Don't take my word for it...read the post.