Courtney Javon Woods was born in Houston, Texas on February 7, 1980 to Elizabeth and Isiah Woods, Sr. (now deceased). The seventh of nine children, Courtney and his family moved to the smaller town of Baytown, Texas to escape the crime and other pressures of living in the inner-city Houston area. From early on, Courtney saw education as his major means of escape from some of the tough realities in his life. Despite all of his success in school, Courtney was troubled by the fact that he and the rest of his family, especially his mother, had to come home everyday to an abusive, alcoholic, and delinquent father. At the age of 9, he witnessed a fight between his parents that was so appalling; his own father attempted to set his mother on fire with matches and gasoline. After this, Courtney's mother secretly gathered her children while his father was doing a familiar stint in jail, and they moved to her hometown of Eudora, Arkansas.
Like most people would assume, Courtney thought that this rural town in Arkansas would be full of farms and "country" people. However, he soon saw that in this predominantly African American community with a population under 3,000, there were a number of negative influences around him. When he saw that even his older brother and sisters were hindered by alcohol, drugs, violence, and teenage pregnancy, Courtney felt that he had a responsibility towards his family, his community, and himself to make sure that he did not continue the cycle of tragedy that tormented his family. He set the goal of becoming the first in his family to graduate from college. To achieve this goal, Courtney decided to move out of Eudora and away from his family in the 10th grade to attend the Arkansas School for Math and Sciences (ASMS) in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Despite being in a new community and school (both predominantly white), Courtney continued to do well in class, as well as activities such as athletics and band.