Born "Gilberto Miguel Calderón" in New York City, Cuba's parents moved from Puerto Rico to New York City in the late 1920s and settled in Spanish Harlem, a Latino community located in Manhattan. Cuba was raised in an apartment building where his father had become the owner of a candy store located on the ground floor (street level floor). His father had organized a stickball club called the Devils. Stickball was the main sport activity of the neighborhood. After Cuba broke a leg he took up playing the conga and continued to practice with the conga between school and his free time.