Obama was born on Aug. 14, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii, to a Kenyan father and a white mother from the state of Kansas, in the U.S. heartland.
However, his father left home only two years after his birth for a graduate degree in Harvard and then a post in the Kenyan government. The only time Obama met his father again was at the age of 10. He was killed in an automobile accident in 1982.
Obama's mother married an Indonesian oil executive when Obama was six. The whole family then moved to the southeast Asian country. He eventually returned to Hawaii for high school and stayed with his grandparents.
As he says in his book, Dreams From My Father, being rooted in both black culture and white culture, has helped him gain expansive vision he could bring to politics later. After graduating from Columbia University in 1983, Obama was "possessed with a crazy idea -- that I would work at a grassroots level to bring about change."
He moved from New York to Chicago, Illinois, in 1985 and worked as a community organizer in a poor African-American area for three years, when he realized involvement at a higher level was needed to bring true improvement to such communities.
Obama then attended Harvard Law School and was elected the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. After graduation, he returned to Chicago where he practiced civil rights law and taught the Constitution at the University of Chicago.
Obama met his wife, Michelle Robinson, in June 1989 when he worked at a Chicago law firm. They married on Oct. 3, 1992, and have two daughters, Malia Ann and Natasha.