Leslie Alan Jordan was born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he graduated from Brainerd High School. In a 2014 interview, Jordan said that he had a difficult time growing up Southern Baptist. "I was baptized 14 times. Every time the preacher would say, 'Come forward, sinners!' I'd say 'Oooh, I was out in the woods with that boy, I better go forward.'"During an appearance on Today, Jordan said his mother, Peggy Ann, was supportive and accepting, despite never truly understanding him. Jordan's father, Allen B. Jordan, was a major in the United States Army Reserve and died, along with two others, in the crash of a civilian Beechcraft Debonair airplane at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, on March 31, 1967, when Jordan was eleven years old.Jordan moved to Los Angeles in 1982, where he became involved with drugs and alcohol and was arrested several times. When Jordan was 27 years old, he began to journal daily, which helped him recover from drug and alcohol abuse. In 2010, Jordan told talk show host Wendy Williams that he had been sober for thirteen years. In the same appearance, Jordan said that before he gave up drinking, he once shared a cell with Robert Downey Jr., and when they both appeared later on Ally McBeal, Downey couldn't quite place where they had met before.Early in the AIDS crisis, Jordan became involved in AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) as a buddy and as a food delivery-person for Project Angel Food.