Chester Lee Harris was born in 1940, spending his early years at Hackensack, New Jersey with his parents, Chester and Margaret Harris. His sister Renee Harris was born three years later, after which the family moved to Manhattan, New York. Lee's mother was 16 years old when he was born – documentation on his father, however, is scarce. Margaret later divorced Chester and became married to William Beasley, who died in 1977. Both Lee and Renee graduated Edward W. Stitt Junior high school in New York.
In the early 1960s, Lee was enlisted in the 369th Infantry of the New York Army National Guard, participating in training at Fort Dix and Fort Drum. After his discharge, Lee married Claudette Nourse in 1969, moving into an apartment in the Bronx. He worked as a New York City Transit bus operator until 1994. Their first house was acquired after retirement in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The couple remains active in the community into later years of their life. At the age of fifty, Claudette graduated Bronx Community College of the City University of New York with an Associate's degree in Applied Science. Lee was fifty-nine and Claudette sixty-three when they volunteered at the Citizen's Academy of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. The two-month program aimed to foster public understanding on the incentives behind police work, in order to correct common misunderstandings. The following year Lee again applied to be a police department volunteer, this time for the Programs for Accessible Living's Parking Patrol Program (P.A.L.). There is no indication of whether he was accepted into this program or not.
Gatherings with his extended family continued after marriage, particularly at Christmas. His grandmother, Henrietta Cephas Brown ("Nana") makes a consistent appearance in family photographs since Lee's birth, indicating their close correspondence. He also made trips with his extended family to locales such as Cape Cod, New Hampshire, and New York City.