Donald Goines was born in Detroit, Michigan. He joined the U.S. Air Force instead of going into his family's dry cleaning business. Following his service, he entered into a life of drug addiction and crime. He received seven prison sentences, serving a total of over six years. While he was in prison, Goines wrote his first two novels, Dopefiend: The Story of a Black Junkie and Whoreson: The Story of a Ghetto Pimp. Goines was shot to death in 1974.