Elijah Wayne Hughes was born March 10, 1998 in Poughkeepsie, New York and grew up in nearby Beacon. He is the son of Wayne and Penny Hughes and has six siblings. Ejijah's older sister, Talah, played college basketball at Saint Peter's. Hughes started playing hoops through the CYO (Catholic Youth Organization). In the ninth grade, Hughes was asked to join the varsity team at Beacon High School to man the point guard position. After two academic years, he transferred to John F. Kennedy Catholic High School in Somers, New York. As a junior, Hughes led JFK to a 26-2 record and runner-up status at the Catholic High School Athletic Championship (CHSAA). For his senior season, he transferred to South Kent boarding school in Connecticut. Hughes then started his college days at East Carolina (2016-17), but transferred to Syracuse after his freshman year. At Syracuse, Hughes studied human development and family science.