Dale Earnhardt, Jr. , was born and raised in Kannapolis, North Carolina, the son of Brenda Lorraine Jackson (née Gee; born January 2, 1952, died April 22, 2019) and Dale Earnhardt Sr. His maternal grandfather, Robert Gee Sr. , was a NASCAR car builder. He has an elder sister, Kelley; an elder half-brother, Kerry, from his father's first marriage; and a younger half-sister, Taylor Earnhardt-Putnam, from his father's third marriage. Earnhardt Jr. is of part German ancestry. His parents divorced shortly after he was born, and he and Kelley lived with Brenda until their house was destroyed in a fire when he was six years old. As Brenda had no financial support after the fire, she gave up custody of the two children to Earnhardt Sr. prior to his marriage to Teresa Houston. During Earnhardt Jr. 's childhood, Kelley took care of him while their father and Teresa were busy with the race seasons. When he became a delinquent at the age of 12, he was sent by his father and Teresa to a military school; three weeks later, Kelley quit high school to join him.