Gambit grew up in the streets of New Orleans, and is assumed to be an orphan. Like many others forced to grow up on their own, on the streets, Gambit learned the fine art of thieving at an early age, a talent that was only bolstered by his mutant ability which manifested later. With the ability to convert any object's stored potential energy into kinetic energy, Gambit made a deadly thief indeed. He became part of a thieves guild at some point in his youth, and it was during this time that he met his future, though ill-fated, wife-to-be, Belladonna. They were to be married, he a thief, she an assassin in order to unite the two factions and bring peace. It was also here that he discovered the secret of immortality. The thieves guild had struck a deal many years ago with an immortal called the
Benefactress, who provided them with a serum which would prolong their lives. In return for a terrible price, of course.
Not wishing to see Belladonna and Gambit married, Belle's brother, Julien, challenged Gambit to a duel. Julien lost, and the price was his life. Wishing to maintain peace, Gambit was cast out by the thieves guild, though he continued to live by his thieving skill. Gambit's life of crime was cut short when he met up with Storm. Though she was technically the leader of the X-Men, she had been regressed in age to the point just before puberty, and thus had only weak mutant powers available to her when she ventured to Cairo, Illinois. The Shadow King found her there, and might have succeeded in killing her if not for Gambit's timely intervention. He helped her get away from the villain, and they spent a time thieving in the streets of New Orleans, kindred spirits of a sort. When Storm decided to return to the X-Men, Gambit went with her and joined the team as well. When Storm was returned to adulthood during The X-Tinction Agenda, it was apparent that he had become rather attached to her when he became a bit jealous over she and Forge's kiss. Still, it wasn't long before he had found another woman who intrigued him. When he met up with Rogue, it was attraction at first sight. He began to
pursue her relentlessly, and eventually won her over with his Cajun charms. Though they could not touch because of Rogue's mutant power, the emotion between them was not lessened, perhaps even increased. But what little happiness they had found was bound not to last for long.
Belladonna showed up on the X-Men's doorstep, creating all sorts of chaos, especially between Gambit and Rogue. The X-Men soon found themselves traveling back to New Orleans to unravel the mystery there which Belladonna had told them about, encountering their old foes, the alien Brood when they arrived. The threat of the Brood ended, the X-Men returned home, Gambit leaving behind Belladonna once again, thinking her dead from the battle. It wasn't long before he returned to New Orleans again, though, this time to confront the
Benefactress and end the immortal's rule over the guild.
Rogue and Gambit's relationship continued to progress, and bits and pieces of his past were revealed, most of it checkered. Once the lover of the External Candra, and the ally of Sabretooth, Gambit's past was questionable...but the X-Men rarely thought twice about it, for he had proven himself time and time again. It wasn't until the crystal wave came, bringing the end of the X-Men's world and beginning of the Age of
Apocalypse that things began to unravel. In one last moment of desperation, believing their world was about to end forever, Rogue kissed Gambit, the first time they had ever truly touched. When the world was returned to normal, and the Age of
Apocalypse ended, it took Gambit months to recover from the coma she left him in. Meanwhile, Rogue, who had absorbed some of the memories, and even powers, of Gambit, was slowly going mad. Unable to piece together the memories she had
inadvertently stolen, she nonetheless felt the darkness behind them. She left the X-Men for a time to sort things out, hitting the road with Iceman and heading West, toward Seattle. Something in Gambit's memories was drawing her there, something not altogether pleasant. When Gambit finally awoke from his coma, he left to track her down. He knew where she was going, he knew which memories would be strongest within her, as they were in him. They met in a theatre, a landmark which stood out vividly in Gambit's memories, and she demanded to know what had happened here. When Gambit finally relented and offered his hand, to let her touch him and know all of his memories, she refused, turning away from him and flying off.
She did eventually return, though, and their relationship had barely even begun to heal when she left again, this time to visit her childhood friend Cody. Gambit went after her, only to find that Belladonna had taken the boy before Rogue arrived. Between the two of them, they managed to defeat both Belladonna and Candra. But it did nothing to heal the rift between them. It took a long time, a fight between Joseph and Gambit, and her near death before Rogue would even admit her love for him.