Luiz Inácio da Silva was born on 27 October 1945 (registered with a date of birth of 6 October 1945) in Caetés (then a district of Garanhuns), located 250 km (150 miles) from Recife, capital of Pernambuco, a state in the Northeast of Brazil.

In December 1952, when Lula was only 7 years old, his mother decided to move to São Paulo with her children to rejoin her husband.

In 1969, he married Maria de Lourdes, who died of hepatitis in 1971, while pregnant with their first son, who also died.

In 1974, Lula married Marisa Letícia Rocco Casa, a widow with whom he then had three sons.

He was elected in 1975, and reelected in 1978, as president of the Steel Workers' Union of São Bernardo do Campo and Diadema.

On 10 February 1980, a group of academics, intellectuals, and union leaders, including Lula, founded the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) or Workers' Party, a left-wing party with progressive ideas created in the midst of Brazil's military government.

Lula first ran for office in 1982, for the state government of São Paulo, and lost.

In 1982, he added the nickname Lula to his legal name.

In 1983 he helped found the Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT) union association.

In the 1986 elections Lula won a seat in Congress with the most votes nationwide.

General elections were held in Brazil on 6 October 2002, with a second round on 27 October. After three failed attempts, Workers' Party leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva succeeded in a presidential election. Nevertheless, he did not manage to obtain the majority of valid votes in the first round; this led the presidential election to a second round, which Lula won with 52.7 million votes (61.3% of the total), becoming at the time the second most voted-for president in the world after Ronald Reagan in the 1984 United States presidential election.

He became a president in 2003.

General elections were held in Brazil on 1 October 2006 to elect all seats in the Chamber of Deputies, one-third of the Federal Senate, and members of the Legislative Assemblies of the 26 states and the Federal District. As no candidate for president received over 50% of the vote, a second round run-off was held on 29 October between incumbent Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and his challenger, Geraldo Alckmin. A second round was also required in 10 states where no candidate for governor received a majority. Lula won the second round with over 60% of the valid votes and secured a new four-year term.

When wanted Italian terrorist Cesare Battisti was arrested in Rio de Janeiro on 18 March 2007 by Brazilian and French police officers, Brazilian Minister of Justice Tarso Genro granted him status as a political refugee, a controversial decision which divided Italy and the Brazilian and international press.

Before a G-20 summit in London in March 2009, Lula caused an uproar by declaring that the economic crisis was caused by "the irrational behavior of white people with blue eyes, who before seemed to know everything, and now have shown they don't know anything".

On 18 November 2009, the Brazilian Supreme Court declared the refugee status illegal and allowed Battisi's extradition, but also stated that the Brazilian constitution gave the president personal powers to deny the extradition if he chose to, effectively putting the final decision in the hands of Lula. Lula decided to bar extradition of Battisti.

On 31 December 2010, Lula's last day in office, the decision not to allow extradition was officially announced.

Battisti was released on 9 June 2011 from prison after the Brazilian Constitutional Court denied Italy's request to extradite him. Italy planned to appeal to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

On 29 October 2011, through the Syrian-Lebanese Hospital of São Paulo, it was announced that Lula suffered from throat cancer, a malignant tumor in his larynx.

In 2014, Brazil began Operação Lava Jato (Operation Car Wash), resulting in several arrests and convictions, including nine suits against Lula.

In April 2015, the Public Ministry of Brazil opened an investigation into allegations of influence peddling by Lula, which claimed that between 2011 and 2014 he had lobbied for government contracts in foreign countries for the Odebrecht company and had also persuaded the Brazilian Development Bank to finance the projects in Ghana, Angola, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic.

In June 2015 Marcelo Odebrecht, president of Odebrecht, was arrested on charges that he had paid politicians $230 million in bribes.

On 4 March 2016, as part of "Operation Car Wash", Brazilian authorities raided Lula's home.

On 28 July 2016, Lula filed a 39-page petition with the UN's Human Rights Committee outlining alleged abuses of power. The petition claims that "Lula is a victim of abuse of power by a judge, with the complicity of prosecutors and the media". The petition was the first ever taken against Brazil which ratified the Committee’s protocol in 2009.

On 14 September 2016, prosecutors filed corruption charges against Lula, accusing him of being the mastermind or 'maximum commander of the scheme'.

On 19 September 2016, 13th Circuit (Paraná) federal judge Sérgio Moro, who was leading the corruption probe, accepted an indictment for money laundering against Lula and his wife Marisa Leticia Lula da Silva.

The UN accepted the case and Brazil had six months to respond to the petition with the committee made of 18 international jurists. In November 2016, Lula's legal team filed additional evidence of abuses by the Brazilian justice system.

On 12 July 2017, he received a sentence of nine and a half years in prison.

On 25 January 2018, the Appeal Court of Porto Alegre found Lula guilty of corruption and money laundering and sentenced him to 12 years of prison, for one of the nine law processes, as the other eight are still in course.

On 26 March 2018 the Supreme Federal Tribunal of Brazil upheld the sentence of the Appeal Court, thus ending the case.

On 5 April 2018, Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court (STF) voted 6–5 to deny Lula's habeas corpus petition.

Following Judge's Moro issuing of an arrest warrant for the ex-president, on April 6, 2018, Lula appealed to the UN"s Human Rights Committee to ask the government to prevent his arrest until he had exhausted all appeals.

On 17 April 2018, Brazilian senators who were members of the legislature's Human Rights Commission, the Argentinian Nobel Prize laureate, Adolfo Perez Esquivel and the former president of Uruguay, José Pepe Mujica were not allowed to visit Lula in prison to acquire information of violation of Lula’s human rights.

On 28 May 2018, the Committee initiated a formal investigation into violations against basic judicial guarantees in Lula's case.

On 8 July 2018, federal judge for the 4th region Rogério Favreto ordered Lula's release, a ruling that was overturned the same day by the president of the 4th regional court.

On 2 August 2018, Pope Francis received in Rome Celso Amorim, Alberto Fernández and Carlos Ominami, three former allies of Lula da Silva. At the conclusion of a one-hour meeting, Pope Francis received by Mr Amorim the Lula's biography The Truth Will Win and addressed to Lula a handwritten note that he posted in his Twitter account, with the following text: "To Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva with my blessing, asking him to pray for me, Francisco”.

The Workers' Party officially launched Lula as its candidate on 5 August 2018, in São Paulo.

On 11 September 2018, Lula officially dropped out of the election and was replaced by former São Paulo mayor Fernando Haddad, whom Lula endorsed.

Lula was released from prison after 580 days, in 8 November 2019.