Jack Hillwood was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He grew up hunting, fishing and camping with his elder brother and sister. His father worked at the International Filing Company, and his mother hired out as a maid and nanny. Jack moved to New Orleans in 1991, taking various odd jobs in bars, hotels, and stores. He landed a more permanent position in 1995 as a clothes salesman and moved to a much better part of town. His brother and sister moved on long before, so it fell to Jack to see to his parents.