Snipes was born in Orlando, Florida, the son of Marian (née Long), a teacher's assistant, and Wesley Rudolph Snipes, an aircraft engineer. He grew up in the Bronx, New York. He attended the High School of Performing Arts of Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts but moved back to Florida before he could graduate. After graduating from Jones High School in Orlando, Snipes returned to New York and attended the State University of New York at Purchase. He also attended Southwest College in Los Angeles, California.