Kent was born in Memphis, Tennessee on November 5, 1957. He graduated from the South Side High School in Memphis.
Kent completed recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, in March 1976 and was assigned to the 1st Marine Brigade.
In May 1978, Kent was transferred to Marine Security Guard Battalion where he served as a Marine Security Guard at Embassies in Kinshasa, Zaire and Panama.
In June 1981, Kent transferred to Fort Benning for Airborne School and Parachute Riggers School at Fort Lee, Virginia. In June 1982, he was assigned as 2nd Air Delivery Platoon Commander, and parachute rigger billets in various commands at Camp Lejeune.
In February 1983, Kent was transferred to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California, for duty as a drill instructor, senior drill instructor, and battalion drill master with First Battalion. In January 1985, Kent was meritoriously promoted to Gunnery Sergeant.
In May 1985, Kent transferred to the 3rd Air Delivery Platoon as platoon sergeant. In June 1986, he transferred to Engineer Company, BSSG-1 1st Marine Brigade, Hawaii, as company gunnery sergeant. In March 1988, Kent was assigned to Noncommissioned Officers School, 1st Marine Brigade, as the NCOIC.
In February 1989, Kent transferred to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina, as a student at Drill Instructor School. After completion of Drill Instructor School, Kent was assigned to Naval Aviation Officers Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida, as a drill instructor, chief drill instructor, and first sergeant. In February 1990, Kent was promoted to first sergeant and assigned as first sergeant, Marine Aviation and Training Support Group, Pensacola, Florida.
In June 1992, he transferred to 4th Marine Regiment for duty. In June 1993, he transferred to the Army Sergeants Major Academy, Fort Bliss, Texas. After graduation, in February 1994 he was transferred and assigned as first sergeant, Battery L, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines. In December 1994, he assumed the duties as the sergeant major of the 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines.
In August 1997, Kent was transferred to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California, where he was assigned duties as Sergeant Major Second Recruit Training Battalion, and, in September 1999, as Sergeant Major Recruit Training Regiment.
In May 2001, he was transferred to Marine Forces Europe/Fleet Marine Force Europe, Stuttgart, Germany, where he was assigned the duties as the sergeant major of Marine Forces Europe/FMF Europe.
In April 2004, he was transferred to I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California, where he served as the sergeant major of the I Marine Expeditionary Force.
On January 19, 2007, General James Conway, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, announced that Kent would become the 16th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, succeeding John L. Estrada. On April 25, 2007, in a ceremony at the Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., Kent assumed the top Marine Corps enlisted post. He was succeeded by Micheal Barrett on June 9, 2011, at Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C.
Kent is the recipient of the General Gerald C. Thomas Award for inspirational leadership.
Kent holds the rifle expert (3rd award) and pistol sharpshooter marksmanship badges and eight service stripes.