Thomas Vercetti was born in Liberty City in 1951. His father owned a printing shop and as a boy Tommy helped him by cleaning the rollers. He had planned to follow in his fathers footsteps, but in his own words, led a different life. Some dialogue spoken by Tommy while fleeing police indicates that he had a bad relationship with his mother.
At some point prior to 1971, Tommy joined the Forelli Family. He continued to work with the Forelli Family, working his way up the rankings and, presumably, becoming a made man. In 1971, Sonny Forelli, growing apprehensive of Tommy's growing power, attempted to set up an ambush for him, under the guise of a hit in Harwood. However, Tommy not only survived, but killed all eleven men sent to kill him. He was arrested and convicted of eleven counts of murder, but since he kept quiet and turned no evidence on the Forelli Family, they used judicial connections to spare him the death penalty or life imprisonment. Tommy remained in prison for fifteen years, never informing the LCPD of any Forelli Family secrets.
In 1986, Tommy was released from prison after Sonny "pulled some strings". Sonny decides to send Tommy to Vice City, realizing that he is too well known in Liberty City, also wanting to become involved with drugs. Tommy flies to Vice City along with Harry and Lee, meeting Ken Rosenberg at the airport, before immediately driving to a drug deal at the docks. The drug deal at the docks turns into an ambush, and Harry, Lee, and one of the drug dealers are all killed. Only Tommy, Ken, and the other dealer escape the attack.
Tommy informs Sonny of the ambush and is reminded that Sonny is "not a man to be screwed with", who also makes it clear that he wants his money and his drugs back. Tommy initially works for Ken, starting riots and intimidating jurors. While working for Ken, Tommy also meets Lance Vance, the other dealer, who seeks revenge for his brother, who was killed during the ambushed deal. Tommy also works for Juan Cortez, an intermediary for the drug deal, who begins to look into the ambush for Tommy. Meanwhile, he has Tommy stealmissile technology chips and kill Gonzalez, who had talked about the deal.
Cortez, believing that Ricardo Diaz was responsible for the ambush, asks Tommy to act as protection for Diaz in a deal with the Cubans. The Haitians, enemies of the Cubans, ambush the deal, but are killed by Tommy and Lance. Diaz, seeing potential in Tommy and Lance, hires them to kill gang members who were stealing his money andsteal the fastest boat in the city in order to purchase drugs from a dealer on a boat. Lance eventually attempts to kill Diaz for the death of his brother, but is captured by Diaz's men, later being freed by Tommy. The two later go on to take revenge, killing Diaz in his ownmansion.
The death of Ricardo Diaz brings change to Vice City, allowing Tommy and Lance to step in and continue the crime ring established by Diaz. Tommy, however, begins to look beyond the protection rackets established by Diaz and purchases a number of businesses around the city, most prominently the Malibu Club, the Cherry Popper Ice Cream Factory (a front for a drug running business), InterGlobal Films and the Print Works. After purchasing each business, Tommy helps establish them in the city with a stronger influence. During this time, Tommy also begins to work for a number of smaller time criminals in the city, including the Cuban leader Umberto Robina and the Haitian leader Auntie Poulet(due to her drugging him), helping both sides attack the other. He also works for Avery Carrington's real estate business, Phil Cassidy's gun running business, Mr. Black's hitman business, Mitch Baker's biker gang, and Kent Paul's management of Love Fist. Tommy also went on to help Juan Cortez escape the city when the GIGN assault his yacht for the missile technology.
Sonny Forelli, growing restless and impatient, sends some of his men tocollect some of his money from Tommy's businesses. Tommy kills the collectors, although not in time to save Earnest Kelly, the owner of the Print Works, from being injured. Tommy decides to give Sonny fake money printed at the Print Works. Tommy meets Sonny in person at his estate to give him the counterfeit money, but Sonny informs him that Lance has sided with him, betraying Tommy. A gun battle ensues, with Tommy killing both Lance and Sonny, who also confirms Tommy's suspicion that he was set up in Harwood. Following the deaths of Lance and Sonny, Tommy and Ken take over, becoming the most powerful men in Vice City.
Life After 1986
Tommy Vercetti continued to run the criminal underworld of Vice City after 1986; during that time, Tommy's relationship with Ken became increasingly strained due to Ken's cocaine addiction. Tommy eventually got Ken into rehab at the Fort Carson Medical Center in Fort Carson, San Andreas, and refused to speak to Ken after he finished rehab.
Tommy was also mentioned in the mission The Meat Business in GTA San Andreas when CJ said Who the fuck is Tommy?, as Ken Rosenberg meant to say that he and CJ didn't had fun like this, but instead of CJ he said Tommy.
Tommy Vercetti is depicted as both intelligent and temperamental, he is easily angered and quick to resort to violence. He has no hesitation about killing, though many of his victims are in turn trying to kill Tommy as well, or have done something that requires to be killed. The story does not require Tommy to kill any innocent people. Tommy does also show a softer side as seen with his relations with Mercedes Cortez and Earnest Kelly, whom he views as a father figure due to his childhood memories of working with his father at a printworks.
Out of all of the protagonists in the series with defined personalities, Tommy is arguably the most brutal and vicious of them all, showing little to no remorse for any of his crimes and working primarily for himself as opposed to committing crimes to benefit others he cares about or to get out of a bad situation.
Tommy Vercetti shows many characteristics in common with Tony Montana, a drug lord from the film Scarface. The two both end up in exile, both arrive to the city in Hawaiian shirts, both rise to power in Miami using great amounts of violence, both build an empire from a large estate and mansion, both have short tempers and are prone to violence, both work as contract killers, and both killed their collaborators and took their ex-bosses' empires. The interior of the Vercetti Estate is even modeled after Montana's mansion. There are, however, key differences, most notably that Tommy did not become addicted to his own narcotics and that Tommy survived the shoot out in his mansion, as opposed to Montana who was killed.
Tommy Vercetti also bears some resemblance to 'Mr. Blonde' from the film Reservoir Dogs, played by Michael Madsen who also voiced Toni Cipriani, protagonist of Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories. The film sees 'Mr. Blonde' released from prison after loyally doing time for his crime family, as Tommy did after the "Harwood Incident". Tommy later performs contract killings for a 'Mr. Black', whilst he is referred to as 'Mr. Teal' (a reference to the then deceased Leo Teal). He also has a small resemblance to his voice actor Ray Liotta