Shay Laren is the eldest of four children. Her mother became pregnant with her in high school, and her father was shipped off in the military. Laren has said that he knows that she exists but he apparently doesn't care and has never come around to see her. She was an army brat, growing up in a number of military bases across the world. She spent her high school years in Germany. Penthouse claims she also spent time in Hawaii.

Laren was discovered by Crystal Klein, who was her neighbor and a former Penthouse Pet herself. Laren was married at age 18 and divorced him one year later in 2005.