Monson was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, to G. Spencer Monson and Gladys Condie. The second of six children, he grew up in a tight knit family. In fact, many of his mother's relatives lived on the same street and the extended families frequently went on trips together. Among other places Monson would often spend weekends with relatives on their farms in Granger (now part of West Valley City).
Monson indicated on several trips to Mexico as an LDS Church apostle that he had a special love for Mexicans, given that he grew up in a Salt Lake neighborhood with many Mexican residents.
As a teenager, Monson worked for the printing business of which his father was the general manager.
Following the death of Church President Spencer W. Kimball in 1985, Monson was chosen as second counselor in the First Presidency to new church president Ezra Taft Benson. At age 58, he was the youngest member of a First Presidency since Rudger Clawson joined the First Presidency at age 44 in 1901. Serving as the second counselor to Benson and his successor Howard W. Hunter, Monson was named first counselor to church president Gordon B. Hinckley in 1995, simultaneously becoming President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles by seniority. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency until Hinckley's death on January 27, 2008.
Thomas S. Monson became the 16th president of the LDS Church on 3 February 2008, succeeding Gordon B. Hinckley, who had died seven days earlier. Monson selected Henry B. Eyring and Dieter F. Uchtdorf as his first and second counselors, respectively.