Hill was born in Oak Grove, Louisiana and is the fourth of ten children. As a young boy, Ernest grew up during times of strict segregation. His education began at Combs McIntyre, a small segregated school. Soon his athleticism took center stage, and Hill earned a football scholarship to Northeast Louisiana University. Hill later transferred to the University of California, Berkeley, and from there went to Cornell University to pursue a master's degree in African American Studies. He is the author of the following novels and a host of other publications: Cry Me A River, A Life For A Life, Satisfied With Nothing, and It's All About the Moon, When the Sun Ain'ts Shinning, and A Person of Interest.