In 1986, at the age of 6, he moved from his native East Palo Alto, California, to Sacramento.There, his mother used to send him off to the corner at his apartment building to buy drugs for her. Before long, he was also into gambling, sometimes betting as much as 400 dollars on dice games at school.
Wright was sent to a juvenile delinquent facility in 1992, at his home state. In 1994, he landed at the now infamous Arizona Boys Ranch in Tucson. At Tucson, he said, he was nervous at having people yell at him at first, but he got used to it.
Amid all the controversies that the Boys' Ranch faced when Wright was there (including the death of a boy who was being disciplined), Wright found time to play football. He had never played the sport before, but he impressed Boys' Ranch officials so much that he was given a chance to play high school football while there. He immediately made an impact on the field, taking his team to the playoffs as a junior, and to the championship game as a senior.
Wright graduated at 17 and went to Arizona Western college, where he stayed for 2 years before moving on to Sacramento Community College in 1999. There, he used his body to have a total of 14 sacks during one season.
His next visit to Tucson, to tour the University of Arizona, brought him more trouble, as he and his group were accused of stealing some items from campus. Wright to this day says it was some recruits, not him, who stole the items. Nevertheless, he went on trial and received probation. By then, he was committed to the University of Missouri, so he didn't qualify for community service sentencing.
He had 68 sacks his first season at Missouri. However, trouble followed him there too, as he used a stolen credit card (his roommate's card) to get gas. He claims that he didn't know the card was stolen. For that, he received a suspended sentence, along with fines and community service.
Wright was chosen by the Texans as the final pick of the sixth round instead. He signed a contract worth $925,000 for the seasons from 2003 to 2005.