Russell Tillman was born to Arthur "Art" Tillman, a son of Eris, and Persephone in Trenton, New Jersey. Growing up, Art would always tell Russ of how much he loved his mother, though nothing else about her. Due to being a son of Eris, Art was almost completely incapable of raising Russ right,often leading to him getting into trouble in school and with the law well into his teens. His charges ranged from grand theft auto, graffiti, to other means of vandalism, as well as breaking and entering.
At 14, he began to be attacked by monsters. Refusing to believe it, Russ took to smoking pot to cope with what he thought were visions of insanity. As the attacks became more frequent, Art began to intervene, often killing several monsters for him. As it happened more often, Art became very angry and insisted that he be sent to Camp Half-Blood to learn to defend himself, and that he wouldn't fight his battles anymore.
The night before he was to go to camp, Russ was smoking with several of his friends, when suddenly he was attacked by the Minotaur. In his hazy state of mind, Russ promptly shouted "HOLY SHIT! IT'S THE JERSEY DEVIL!!" and ran at it with a switchblade. The monster easily swatted him away as his friends scattered. having several of his ribs broken, he staggered to his feet slowly, scooping up a boxcutter he found in a nearby rosebush.
Hearing the commotion, Art came to his son's aid, nearly killing the beast before it gored him on a tree. Before dying, Art sliced through its tendons in its legs, making it unable to run. Russ staggered over, and seeing his father dying, extended the boxcutter, and was shocked as it's blade extended into a katana. Then in his rage, he stabbed the monster in the skull, and it exploded into golden dust.
He then went to tend to his father. "Well, you managed to f*ck everything up for me yet again. Thanks a billion. Now, I need you to get your ass to camp. Your blood will NOT be on my hands. Now go, and when I see in in the underworld, maybe I won't be so ashamed of you." He gave him written directions to camp and died right there.
This encounter left Russ abysmal and bitter, and he struggled towards camp for as long as he could, but with his injuries, he fell unconscious just outside of Long Island. A satyr nearby saw him and noticed he was a demigod and carried him the rest of the way to camp. After spending a few days in the infirmary healing, he was claimed by Persephone.