Coleman was raised in a foster home in Richmond, Virginia. As a youth he participated in track and field, but turned his attention to studying drama after a leg injury.Before becoming an actor, Coleman served in the United States Army between 1985 and 1989 as a video cameraman. He had a starring role on the HBO series The Wire as reformed criminal Dennis "Cutty" Wise. In 2002, Coleman starred as O.J. Simpson in TNT's television movie Monday Night Mayhem. Chad also had a role in the Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles TV series on Fox. He also had a small role in Carlito's Way: Rise to Power. He has recently been involved in the development of Left 4 Dead 2 as voice actor for the character Coach. In 2009, Coleman appeared in a revival of August Wilson's play Joe Turner's Come and Gone on Broadway and also had a starring role in the Norwegian TV series Buzz Aldrin, What Happened To You In All The Confusion?, based on the novel by Johan Harstad. The series aired in Europe in November 2011. Chad was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia.
He guest starred in the In Plain Sight episode "Whistle Stop" as an ex-boxer/witness suffering from pugilistic dementia, and in the Lie to Me episode "The Canary's Song" as a coal miner. He was also a guest star in two episodes of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia in 2010.
In 2011, he landed the role of Gary Miller, the ex-husband of Nikki Miller and father of manipulative daughter Mackenzie in the Fox television sitcom I Hate My Teenage Daughter, which debuted in the fall of 2011.
He currently plays the character of Tyreese on AMC's The Walking Dead.