Stephens was born in Des Moines, Iowa, and came from a broken home. When he was eight years old, Stephens parents divorced and he constantly switched between schools while also living in various apartments, shelters, and even in his mother's car before moving to Norwalk, Iowa with his father, who was granted custody of Stephens when he was in the fifth grade. Growing up, Stephens played baseball, basketball, and also competed in wrestling. Stephens attended Norwalk High School where he was a standout in baseball and wrestling, having returned to wrestling during his senior year. Stephens was introduced to mixed martial arts by his grandfather who had also originally persuaded Stephens to compete in wrestling. While beginning his career in mixed martial arts, Stephens looked up to and later became friends with fellow Des Moines native Josh Neer.