Usher was born on October 14, 1978 in Dallas, Texas, the son of Jonetta Patton (née O'Neal) and Usher Terry Raymond III; both of African American heritage. Usher spent the majority of his young life in Chattanooga: Jonetta Patton left her husband when Usher was one year old, and they relocated to Chattanooga, where Usher lived with his mother, then-step father, and half-brother, James Patton, born in 1984. As a child, Usher joined in their local church youth choir in Chattanooga when he was nine years old, as directed by his mother, in which event her mother discovered his ability to sing, although it was until Usher joined a singing group that she considered he could sing professionally. In 1990, he won in a local talent show while attending middle school. In the belief that a city would provide greater opportunities for showcasing his talent, Usher's family moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where there was a more conducive environment for burgeoning singers. While in Atlanta, Usher attended North Springs High School. Usher's father died in January 2008.
 Personal life
In 2001, Usher began dating former TLC member Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas. Usher lived with Thomas, who had previously been married to producer Dallas Austin, and her son. Their relationship lasted for three years: they broke-up in January 2004, followed by a media frenzy surrounding the personal nature of Usher's fourth album, Confessions. His fans inferred the reason he and Thomas split is due to infidelity on his part, giving allusions to the lyrics of the songs. In an interview on The Bert Show on Atlanta's Q100 in February 2004, Thomas claimed that Usher cheated on her: "Usher did the ultimate no-no to me ... I will never be with him again, and that is that." Usher defended: "... it just didn't work out. But cheating is not what caused the relationship to collide and crash. That ain't what broke it up." Following their break-up, Usher briefly dated English model-actress Naomi Campbell in September 2004.
In February 2007, Usher announced his engagement to girlfriend stylist Tameka Foster. After the sudden cancellation of a planned July wedding due to medical concerns, the two were wed on August 3, 2007 in a private ceremony. Their son Usher Raymond V was born in November of the same year. On December 10, 2008, Foster gave birth to their second child, Naviyd Ely Raymond.
Usher had founded New Look, a non-profit charity organization which aims to "provide young people with a new look on life through education and real-world experience". Its flagship project, camp New Look, run from July 11 to July 23, 2005 in Clark Atlanta University. In 2006, the charity started an initiative called Our Block, for which it helped rebuild and revitalize city blocks in New Orleans. The project went on one street at a time, and the funding was helped through part of the proceeds of Usher's team-up with Armani Exchange in creating "Love 4 Life" dog tags, which were made available at the company's stores and Web site.
In 1999, Usher participated in "Challenge for the Children", a benefit basketball game hosted by American boy band 'N Sync. The event, which was held on the campus of Georgia State University, had raised an estimated $50,000 for several local charities. In 2005, Usher is one among the artists who signed on for a Hurricane Katrina relief concert.