Danny Tidwell was born in Norfolk, Virginia and raised in nearby Virginia Beach. His early childhood was turbulent, and he sometimes got into trouble. Tidwell started dancing at the age of eight in an after-school program for at-risk youth. Local dance instructor Vicky Cooke took notice of the "little bit of a kid in a straddle, trying to reach his fingers to his toes", and after the program closed, Cooke mentioned the boy to Denise Wall. The two women decided to accept him to their studio, Denise Wall’s Dance Energy, for free. Over the next couple of years, Wall took a personal interest in Tidwell, and by the time he was ten, he was calling Wall "Mom" and her other sons (Scotty, Travis, Tyler and Shannon) his brothers. She found out that the boy would often walk part or all of the ten miles (16 km) home after dance class, had little adult supervision outside of the studio, and, at one point, had not been registered in school for months. He lived with his biological mother and two sisters until he was ten, before moving in with Wall; she officially took custody of Tidwell at the age of twelve.