Joseph was born with physical difficulties and at the age of three was given up to state care. His two sisters were both given up at a relatively early age, for care and later adoption, Kathy was born blind and Pamela had some lesser physical difficulties.
Hendrix's parents divorced when he was nine years old; his mother, a heavy drinker who had developed cirrhosis of the liver, died in 1958 when the state of her liver caused her spleen to rupture. On occasion, he was sent to live with his grandmother in Vancouver, British Columbia because of the unstable household, and his brother Leon was put into temporary welfare care for a period. Hendrix grew up as a shy and sensitive boy, deeply affected by the poverty and family disruption he experienced. Unusual for his era, Hendrix's high school had a relatively equitable ethnic mix of African Americans, European Americans, and Asian Americans. At age 15, around the time his mother died,