Nothing is known about Claude's life before 1992, other than he had emerged as a top contender in an illegal racing ring and owned an abandoned garage in Doherty, San Fierro. Rockstar however state's that Claude is: "Definitely a drifter, probably from the west coast, new to Liberty City" (and his) "surname may or may not be Speed".
Events of GTA San Andreas
Racing with Carl Johnson
Claude, in 1992, became involved with Catalina, who had recently split up with Carl "CJ" Johnson, before racing CJ in a losing effort. Following the loss, he hands over his garage to Carl Johnson, before leaving San Andreas with Catalina. The two head to Liberty City where they embark on a nine year crime spree ending with Catalina's betrayal.
Events of GTA III
Bank Heist and Jailbreak
At the start of the game, Claude and Catalina robbed a bank in Liberty City. Catalina, however, turned on her boyfriend, shooting him and leaving him for dead, justifying her decision with "I'm an ambitious girl, and you're just small time". Claude is arrested by theLiberty City Police Department. He is convicted of all charges and is sentenced to ten years in prison. While being transferred to a prison inPortland View, Claude escapes from a police convoy after the Colombian Cartel attack the convoy to free the Oriental Gentleman. Claude and 8-Ballescape to a safehouse in the Red Light District, before moving on toLuigi's Sex Club 7. Luigi Goterelli, the owner, gives Claude his first job in the city, to drive Misty from the hospital back to the club.
The Leone family
Claude, successful in his errand, continues to be employed by Goterelli, who also has him kill a drug dealer and two pimps, before having him driveMisty to Joey Leone's Garage. Claude then begins to work for Joey, killingboth Mike Forelli and Lee Chong, before chauffering Toni Cipriani, later working for him against the Triads. Claude, impressing the Leone Familyhierarchy, is introduced to the Don, Salvatore Leone. Salvatore, 'seeing nothing but good things' for Claude, has him looking after his 'girl' Maria for the evening, kill Curly Bob (who was selling secrets to the Colombian Cartel, now co-led by Catalina) and later destroy a freighter used as a factory for the drug SPANK. During this time, Claude also works for El Burro, the leader of the Diablos, helping him on various tasks, and Marty Chonks in his attempts to get out of his various problems.
After destroying the Cartel freighter, a paranoid Salvatore attempts to killClaude by having him enter a bomb-laden car. Salvatore's wife Maria, however, pages Claude and directs him to a small pier where the two meetAsuka Kasen, co-leader of the Yakuza, and flee to Staunton Island after Maria had told her husband that she and Claude were an "item". Asuka, unconvinced of Claude's loyalty, has himkill Salvatore Leone to prove himself, before having him kill a number of other people causing her problems. She later introduces him to her brother Kenji and Ray Machowski, a corrupt police man working for the Yakuza. Claude helps Kenji with his problems, including settling debts and freeing a man from prison, and helps Machowski in his attempts to remain unnoticed, eventually helping him flee the city by the airport.
Claude is a calm and serious man who appears almost emotionless regardless of the situation. Provided he is paid for his services, he will take orders from his bosses without reluctance or complaint, usually giving a nod to show that he understands, and doesn't respond even when he is scolded or shouted at by his bosses for doing something wrong. He also bows down to his bosses if required, in Kenji Kasen's case.
Claude never speaks, and will only make a slight grunt when he is hurt, or an "Oh!" whenever he drowns, gets shot to death, gets run over, or when falls down. Unlike other protagonists, he doesn't taunt or shout at his enemies, but may give a driver in a passing vehicle the finger while crossing roads.
Claude remains true to his mission of finding and taking revenge on Catalina for leaving him for dead, even showing the slightest bit of pity for Maria when he allows her to live after freeing her, only to possibly kill her himself.