Sammy Ravelo was born in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, to working-class parents. His father owned a small business and his mother was a pharmacist. Sammy is the third born of six brothers and sisters. Due to the economic and political uncertainties in the Dominican Republic, and the desire to give her children a better life, his mother decided to permanently move to the United States. Sammy came to New York on a travel visa, stayed and lived undocumented for several years. He was later sponsored for permanent residence by his mother. He attended Walton High School in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx. After graduating and unable to afford college, he worked a variety of jobs such as bagging groceries at the neighborhood grocery store and pumping gas at the local gas station.
In 1988 he received his permanent residence which put him on a path of public service. Shortly after receiving his Permanent Residence, Sammy joined the United States Navy. He is a veteran of the Persian Gulf War that liberated Kuwait. After completing his military service, Sammy returned to the Bronx and enrolled at Bronx Community College. While in school he joined the New York City Police Department as a police cadet. After graduating, he was promoted to police officer and served the people of New York City for 25 years. He received several promotions, retiring as a lieutenant. It is his experience while serving in the New York City Police Department that he observed the impact of gun violence, and the need for sensible gun laws. The impact of an immigration policy that creates an underground economy and forces people into the shadows. The impact of an economy that does not work for everyone. The devastating impact of the opioid crisis. The impact of disastrous housing policies that hurt poor and working-class Bronxites and New Yorkers as a whole. Sammy is the father of two sons, Sammy Jr and Kevin, whom he raised in the Morris Park neighborhood of the Bronx.