Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Jordin Sparks admits that the high-intensity environment of her father’s occupation (her dad, Phillippi Sparks, was a professional football player for the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys) may have schooled her in how to cope with the rigors of show business early on. “My family was always very loving, very grounded. My dad kept us calm no matter what was happening with his career, and my mom made me fiercely independent. She was big on teaching us responsibility and fending for ourselves. I think I understood early the importance of setting goals and being prepared to meet them.” Growing up in a bi-racial household also taught Jordin another valuable lesson. “Amazingly, I never felt singled-out. Even at school, we were always treated with respect, never out of the ordinary, which when I look back, is really an incredible thing. I try to be that accepting whenever I encounter a new or difficult situation.”
Before appearing on American Idol, Sparks participated in and won such talent competitions as Sprite Rising Star, Gospel Music Association GMA Academy, The Proof Is In The Pudding Contest, NBC/PAX America's Most Talented Kids, Colgate Country Showdown and the 2007 Drug Free AZ Superstar Search.
In 2006, Jordin Sparks was one of six winners who won the Phoenix Torrid search for the "Next Plus Size Model." She was flown to California , where she was used in a number of Torrid ads and promotional pieces. A full-page ad for Torrid featuring Sparks ran in the December 2006 issue of Seventeen magazines.
Along with television and radio appearances, Sparks has been on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, Your Prom and World and featured in VIBE, TV Guide, Glamour and other publications. In February 2008, Sparks sang the National Anthem at Super Bowl XLII. Sparks was appointed on August 12, 2008 by President George W. Bush to be a member of the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation for a two year term along with other celebrities such as Corinne Bailey Rae and Michael W. Smith, with whom she has previously worked.