Heath was born in Houston, Texas, in 1993. His father, Richard (Rick) Rushing had familial ties to the landed gentry of the South, especially those in Mississippi, but he made his personal fortune in investment banking in the Houston area. In 1990, Rick met Thessaly Mae Hall, the daughter of the COO of Rothman Petroleum Corporation out of Midland, Texas.
Already 42 years of age and ten years Tessie's senior, Rick was happy to marry into the Hall family money but was not looking to have any children to tie him down. Despite his plans, Tessie became pregnant a week after their wedding day. When their son was born, Rick told Tessie to enjoy Heath, but one kid was more than enough.
Tessie proceeded to spoil Heath in every way possible. Until Heath was school-age, he never left his mother's side. Rick thought it was unhealthy for the boy but wasn't home enough to consistently model appropriate parental guidance if he had cared enough to do so, which he really did not. So Tessie was Heath's whole world. If he got in trouble with the neighbor kids or had issues at school, Tessie was there to take her son's side. If she wasn't able to use their family's considerable influence to solve difficulties in her son's favor, she simply paid his way out of the problem.
Tessie's permissive parenting and Heath's anything-goes affable nature did earn the boy a bevy of friends, some liking Heath's lavish high school parties more than Heath, per se. Tessie loved the attention, too, treating many of the teenage boys in the same smothering way as she treated her son. At one of these parties, Heath dared his mother to try oxycontin for the first time to show the boys how cool his mom was. From that point on, Tessie was hooked on prescription pain medication.
Heath graduated from high school in 2011. After his father donated a new wing for one of the residence halls, Heath was accepted into Ole Miss. Tessie would not be separated from her boy, so she harped on her husband until he agreed to make the move to Oxford in the fall of 2011.
Entranced by the free time and the campus popularity offered to a young man with wealth but little ambition, Heath spent his nights partying and his days sleeping through class. He did enough to pass, and whenever his grades slipped, his father "greased the skids" to a D- or two.
While Ole Miss life was good for Heath, Tessie found that her son didn't leave campus to see her as much as she wished. One night in 2013, Tessie overdosed on oxycodone tablets that had been laced with fentanyl.
Short of blaming Heath for his mother's death, Rick was determined to make something of his boy after Heath graduated from Ole Miss with a non-specific liberal arts degree. He insisted that Heath take his family's seat on the board of the Yoknapatawpha Players acting troupe and make a success of it or lose his inheritance for good. As fed up as Rick is with his son's antics, he continues to bail Heath out of his troubles.