Lawrence was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Donna, a personnel manager and former elementary school teacher, and Joseph Lawrence Mignogna, Sr., an insurance broker. He is of partial Italian descent. His family's surname was changed to "Lawrence" during his childhood. He has two younger brothers, Matthew and Andrew, who are also actors.
He graduated from Abington Friends School in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, in 1994, and later attended the University of Southern California.
Lawrence's first acting role was in a Cracker Jack commercial. At the age of five, he appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, where he performed the song "Give My Regards to Broadway".
After appearing in guest spots on Diff'rent Strokes and Silver Spoons, Lawrence won the role of Joey Donovan on the hit NBC sitcom Gimme a Break! in 1983. He continued in that role until the series ended in 1987. 1985 marked Lawrence's theatrical debut with the release of Summer Rental. Lawrence provided the voice of Oliver, the protagonist in the 1988 Disney film Oliver & Company. From 1991-95, Lawrence co-starred in the hit TV series Blossom, playing "Joey Russo".
Lawrence has also starred in the series Brotherly Love (which featured his real life brothers, Matthew and Andrew Lawrence) and Run of the House, and has guest starred on such programs as American Dreams and CSI: NY. One of Lawrence's film credits is Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000).
In 2006, Lawrence appeared on ABC's Dancing with the Stars. Paired with professional dancer Edyta Śliwińska, he placed third in the competition.
In May 2007, he starred in the Broadway hit Chicago as Billy Flynn. He next hosted a dance competition show on The Learning Channel, Master of Dance, which premiered June 9, 2008.
In 2009, Lawrence starred in the television movie My Fake Fiancé with Melissa Joan Hart, which premiered on ABC Family to 3.6 million viewers, becoming the most-watched television movie of the ratings season, sweeping top rank in its time-period in key demos. In August 2010, Lawrence returned to television in the ABC Family sitcom Melissa & Joey, again opposite Hart. Hart plays a woman who hires Lawrence as a nanny to help care for her incarcerated sister's kids. Lawrence's character is a former figure in the financial industry whose company came under investigation for wrongdoing and caused his professional life to be put on hold. Lawrence's brothers have guest starred on the show. Lawrence played Tony Longo in season 1 episode 25 and Andrew Lawrence appeared in season 1 episode 26 as Ryder Scanlan's teacher, Evan McKay. As of 2014, the series has been renewed for its fourth season.
In 2012, he was contracted to be a Chippendales dancer for a special engagement in June at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. On March 19, 2013, Lawrence began appearing in the ABC reality show Splash, which he co-hosts alongside Charissa Thompson.
Lawrence has said that music was always his passion, and at the height of his success began a recording career. Lawrence was 16 when his debut album Joey Lawrence was released in February 1993. Produced by Steve Barri, Tony Peluso, Terry Lupton and Ian Prince. Lawrence co-wrote some material, including the international hit single "Nothin' My Love Can't Fix" (#6 Billboard Hot 100 Airplay, #10 Billboard Top 40 Mainstream, #19 Billboard Hot 100, #13 United Kingdom, #68 Australia). The song was used as the end-title theme from the movie Cop and a Half; its music video received heavy airplay on MTV and MuchMusic, and Lawrence was invited to perform live on MTV's Spring Break, The Arsenio Hall Show, and the UK's Top of the Pops in 1993.
In July 2008, Lawrence told TV Guide that he was working on a new album composed mostly of ballads.
In June 2011, he released a single, "Rolled", which was available as a free download for one week on ABC Family's website. In July, Joey released a second single, "Give It To Ya (Acoustic)" via Pledge Music.
Lawrence married Michelle Vella in 2002; the couple divorced in 2004. He met his second wife, Chandie Yawn-Nelson, while on vacation in Disney World when the two were teenagers; they wed there in July 2005. The couple have two children.Chicago (2007), as Billy Flynn (replacement)
Albums1993: Joey Lawrence (#74 US Album Charts, #39 UK Albums Chart)
Singles1993: "Nothin' My Love Can't Fix" (#19 US Hot 100, #13 UK Singles Chart, #68 Australian ARIA singles chart)
1993: "I Can't Help Myself" (#27 UK Singles Chart)
1993: "Stay Forever" (#41 UK Singles Chart)
1998: "Never Gonna Change My Mind" (#49 UK Singles Chart)
2011: "Give It To Ya" (acoustic)
2013: "Our Time"