Opal-Marie James was born on July 5, 2008, to Natalie Birdie James and Clarence Otis James in Sardis, Mississippi. Despite their strong desire for a large family, Natalie and Clarence soon realized that Opal-Marie would be their only child. She has always been a source of joy and pride to them.
From a very early age, Opal-Marie showed a clear inclination to be involved with her community and neighbors, wanting to help in any way she could. She began singing in the children's choir at her church when she was four years old. A voracious reader, she often spends time reading aloud—anything from comic books to the King James Bible—to children and old folks who live nearby.
The James family lives in a middle-class neighborhood where virtually all of the adults and most of the older children have jobs. Opal-Marie does her best to help out whenever she can, assisting her mother as well as some of their neighbors with daily cleaning and cooking tasks.
Opal-Marie has two best friends: her dog, Lester, a mongrel of uncertain origins but loving and sweet temperament; and Darnell Baker, with whom she shares her secrets and her dreams. All three of them have been friends with each other practically since birth.
Always a precocious student, Opal-Marie hopes to maintain her exceptional grade point average through high school and earn a scholarship to college, where she plans to study medicine. Her dream is to start a general practice in her hometown and be the "neighborhood doc" for all her neighbors and friends.