In the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, June Marie Giles, in 1964, gave birth to a baby boy who would be named Jeffery Henderson. His father, Charles Henderson, worked as a welder. Reared by his mother, Jeff was born several months before the Watts Riots of 1965. After attending several elementary and secondary schools throughout California, it was at John Muir Junior High School in Burbank when his life changed. There, he became close with a cousin who was a drug dealer; as such, Jeff began selling drugs as well.
His mother moved him and his sister but the communities in which they lived, including South Central in Los Angeles as well as San Diego, were saturated with gang life. By the early 1980s, his dealing had increased to the degree that, according to the article, “Chef Jeff Henderson: The Incredible Journey from Prison to the Kitchen” on BlackDoctor.org, Henderson “… controlled about 40 percent of the cocaine market in southeast San Diego.” Operating a business of manufacturing and selling cocaine that garnered him $35, 000 per week, Jeff stated in the article, “As a teenager, I took lavish vacations, brought my first home, drove luxury cars and owned expensive jewelry … In other words, I lived the so-called ‘American Dream’ at the expense of my community, which I am by no means proud of.”