He was abandoned by his parents at an early age, and his earliest memories were of being found in a Corellian spaceport by Garris Shrike who took him in as a member of his band of vagabonds, training and using him in his underhanded enterprises. He was sent out as a beggar, using his young appearance to get handouts, later, he learned how to pickpocket by first practicing on a droid of Shrike's, and then being sent out into the streets. During this time, he was befriended by Dewlanna, a Wookiee who was serving as a cook aboard Trader's Luck, Shrike's ship. Dewlanna raised him as her own son, teaching him Shyriiwook and taking care of him when he became ill. He would go on to participate in numerous scams and illegal activities under Shrike's direction, including participating in an asteroid mining scam and swoop racing.
Though he wanted to learn more about his family, especially his parents, Shrike kept all that information from him in order to better keep him under his control. For years, he did not even know his family name. At one point, soon after learning from Dewlanna that he was part of the famous Solo line, he ran away from Shrike on Corellia. There, he tracked down his long lost aunt Tiion Solo and his cousin, Thrackan Sal-Solo. The reunion with his family went badly, however—his aunt was a housebound madwoman, while his cousin was a sadistic bully who eventually sold him out to Shrike. Han did not learn about his parents, Jonash and Jaina Solo, until he reached adulthood. Exactly how they died is unknown.
Adventures with Shrike
"I sentence you to death, Solo. May you rot in all the hells there ever were." - Garris Shrike
Han visited many planets on the behest of Shrike. There are also scattered reports that claim Han was present on Kashyyyk during the battle there, near the tail-end of the Clone Wars. Why Shrike would have put young Solo in such dangerous circumstances is unknown. Similar reports have been made about a brief run-in with bounty hunters searching for an escaped Jedi on the planet Socorro.
Solo's education was spotty, like those of the other children Shrike used as beggars and thieves. Though most of the children received only an elementary education from the ship's computer on Trader's Luck, he managed with Dewlanna's help to pick up some knowledge of mathematics, physics, and history by reading in his spare time. Intermittently, he would attend school while going undercover as part of a "respectable family" while Shrike was running a complicated con. At one point, Solo briefly attended a school where Garm Bel Iblis gave a speech. Afterwards, he asked the Senator two insightful questions, which impressed Bel Iblis.
Solo earned his keep for Shrike doing a variety of unsavory jobs. He once joined a pirate group operated by cutthroats Lemo and Sanda. He made a name for himself racing repulsorlift swoops professionally and on the independent circuit. In these days, Solo made an enemy out of a Corellian swoop jockey named Dengar. During one highly publicized race through the crystal swamps of Agrilat, Solo caused Dengar to crash headfirst into a crystalline plant, severely crippling the other racer. Dengar, who would hold a grudge against Solo for the rest of his life, would later become a bounty hunter contracted to find him.
In 12 BBY, Solo was sentenced to fight in the Regional Sector Number Four's All-Human Free-For-All on the penal-colony world of Jubilar for cheating at cards, a felony there. Matched against three other human fighters much larger than himself, Solo somehow managed to defeat the other gladiators in unarmed combat, suffering numerous broken bones. Just prior to the onset of the fight, Solo caught a glimpse of a mysterious figure wearing Mandalorian armor, his first encounter, albeit indirect, with the notorious Boba Fett.
In 10 BBY, Solo was ready to leave Trader's Luck in order to start his own career. He made plans to stowaway aboard Ylesian Dream, an automated freighter, and go to Ylesia, where he would apply for a job opening advertised by the Ylesian high priests. When Solo was about to leave, Shrike and a few of his cohorts caught him as he was saying goodbye to Dewlanna. The armed men tried to stop Solo, but Dewlanna sacrificed herself so that Solo could escape. Solo promised to himself that, if ever he had the chance, he would help one of Dewlanna's people to repay his debt to her.
Solo stowed away aboard Ylesian Dream and after a difficult flight arrived on Ylesia. He applied for the piloting job under the alias Vykk Draygo; he was to pilot the Ylesian Dream—being a drone ship, it had been falling victim to pirate attacks. A Togorian by the name of Muuurgh was assigned to be Solo's 'bodyguard', and, despite some initial tension due to the nature of the relationship, Solo and Muuurgh became fast friends. Solo also developed a relationship with one of the pilgrims who had come to Ylesia seeking religious sanctuary—a Human woman by the name of Bria Tharen. Solo remained in the High Priests' employ for a time, but after discovering the true nature of the operation- a complete scam designed to lure Pilgrims into becoming slaves -he fled the planet with Tharen, Muuurgh, and Mrrov, Muuurgh's wife-to-be. Also key in his flight was that Bria, who had also learned the truth about the Ylesian fraud, was to be married to Ganar Tos. In the process, Solo and Tharen stole a small cache of treasures from the High Priest Toroenza's treasure room and indirectly killed Zavval, the Hutt administrator of Ylesia. This would come back to haunt him later in his life as many bounty hunters would be after him due to the bounty placed on his head by Zavval's relatives.
Solo and Tharen eventually made their way to Coruscant so that Solo could fulfill his dream of becoming a pilot in the Imperial Navy. There, Han had his identity completely changed, including new retinal patterns by Nici the Specialist. They remained together for a short time, but in the end Tharen left Solo without warning because she felt that she was holding him back. She felt that her struggles with the addictive "Exultation" of the Ylesian t'landa Til would hinder Han's career.
Just after he was accepted into the Academy of Carida, he was attacked by Garris Shrike, who was one of the few people who knew that 'Vyyk Draygo' and Han Solo were the same person. Han was certain to have been doomed to Hutt retribution, but another bounty hunter killed Shrike and Han was able to kill that hunter. The next day he shipped out to Carida.
Service in the Imperial Starfleet
"I think there was a time that Solo, who had bound his conception of honor to his service to the Empire, forgot that honor could exist outside Imperial service." - Tycho Celchu
Solo was crushed at Tharen's departure, but he followed his dreams (and Tharen's wishes) and went to study at the Academy of Carida. There he would hone his skills as a pilot. Among his fellow students were future TIE Fighter ace Soontir Fel and Solo's friend Mako Spince.
Solo graduated at the top of his class with the rank of lieutenant. However, his hard-earned military career was short lived. In 5 BBY, he was dispatched to aid Commander Nyklas in duties including slaving and construction work. In this capacity, Han boarded a derelict slaving craft to find that its cargo (Wookiee children) had escaped and that a badly wounded Wookiee was in the pilot's seat. Nyklas ordered Han to skin the helpless Chewbacca, but Han refused and Nyklas swore to punish the Corellian. Shortly afterwards, Han and Chewbacca were put to work on the construction of a new wing of the Imperial Hall of Heroes on Coruscant by Wookiee slaves. An enraged Chewbacca turned on Nyklas, who drew his blaster on the Wookiee. Solo refused to let Chewbacca die; he stunned his commanding officer and helped Chewbacca escape, with the assistance of the Rebel Alliance. Court-martialed and dishonorably discharged, Solo returned to smuggling with Chewbacca (who had sworn a life debt to the Corellian) at his side.
Solo later reflected that even without Chewbacca he probably would have left Imperial service anyway, due to the ridiculous regulations, incompetent officers and widespread anti-alien prejudice.
Solo earned both classes of the Corellian Bloodstripe at some point during his military career, though the reasons for his first-class stripe are unknown. All that is known is that the events through which he earned them took place over several days. Because they were non-Imperial awards, they were the sole decorations that were not stripped from his uniform after his court-martial.It is believed that Solo's second-class bloodstripes came from an incident dealing with a Wookiee.
"I happen to like to shoot first, Rekkon. As opposed to shooting second." - Han Solo
Initially, Han was not happy to have the big Wookiee around. He had saved Chewbacca out of remembrance of Dewlanna, but it had cost him his life's dreams. Han spent much time drinking and playing sabacc, until he was accused of cheating by an irritated Barabel named Shallamar. He probably would have been seriously injured if Chewbacca had not stepped in. After that, Han and Chewbacca grew much closer.
Solo's friend Mako Spince, who had been expelled from the Academy two years before graduation, helped Solo and Chewbacca get started as smugglers. Using Nar Shaddaa as their home base, the three of them enjoyed considerable success. Solo and Chewbacca also frequently worked for the Hutt Lords Jiliac and Jabba. They piloted many of their ships, including both Hutts' personal yachts. Solo also befriended Lando Calrissian and Jarik "Solo", a street urchin who claimed to be a long-lost relative. Han knew that Jarik's claim was a lie, but he took the youth under his wing anyway. He also became romantically involved with the magician Xaverri and later fellow smuggler Salla Zend. During his time with Xaverri, Han became her stage assistant, and performed across the galaxies in her shows. He also served in the other part of her work- schemes designed to hurt the Empire and Imperial officials. At one point, Han even taught Lando how to fly in a ship that would be the center of much of Han's life-the Millennium Falcon.
Han also bought his own ship, the Bria, from Lando, and restored it to spaceworthy condition with the help of Shug Ninx. When the Empire sent a fleet to raze the Smuggler's Moon, Han and his friends rallied a force of smugglers and pirates to victory in the Battle of Nar Shaddaa. Shortly after the battle, as Han was paying the Imperial admiral that the Hutts had agreed to bribe in exchange for his battle plans, the Bria was destroyed by Imperial fighters. Han and Chewbacca worked again with Mako, until he was crippled during a smuggling run in the Ottega system. Solo and Chewbacca continued their career on their own.
Short on cash, Han pawned his last stolen treasure from Toroenza's cache and entered the Cloud City Sabacc Tournament. Against all odds he reached the tournament finals and beat his friend Lando, winning the Millennium Falcon with his earnings. For a time afterwards Han Solo and Chewbacca worked in the Corporate Sector, the Tion Hegemony, and other remote but potentially lucrative sectors of the galaxy. Part of Solo's motivation for these travels was a desire to get away from Salla Zend and her wedding plans, as he was not ready for such a commitment. Solo would later boast that he had been "from one side of the galaxy to the other."
While in the Corporate Sector, their ship was damaged while smuggling weapons to insurgents on Duroon. However, they did collect payment from the insurgents and went to pay off Ploovo Two-For-One, but in a rather creative manner. Given the prickly relationship and even outright disgust they had for each other, Han bought a foul, irritable, putrid dinko, attached the payment to it, and unleashed on the unfortunate employer. Although Corporate Sector Security arrived at the establishment where they were, Han and Chewbacca escaped their grasp relatively unscathed. Payment completed, they went off to find the outlaw tech "Doc" Vandangante's hideout, only to discover he had been taken to the Corporate Sector Authority prison at Stars' End. Doc's daughter Jessa offered upgrades and repairs to his ship, and a Corporate Sector waiver, in exchange for Han helping rescue Doc and other prisoners. Before he could take off, the outlaw techs were attacked by IRD-A Fighters. Piloting a Z-95 Headhunter, Han led the other techs and Jessa in defense of the base. Despite heavy losses, they were successful. To complete their rescue mission for Jessa, Solo and Chewbacca were given two droids, Bollux and Blue Max, and went to the agriworld Orron III to meet up with a group led by Rekkon planning the prison rescue. Though Solo was initially only interested in getting the repairs for his ship, his motives became personal when Chewbacca was captured. After dealing with a traitor in the group, Solo and the others arrived at Stars' End. In order to gain entry, Han, Atuarre, Pakka, Bollux and Blue Max posed as a troupe of entertainers. The rescue proved successful; freeing Chewbacca, Doc, and the other prisoners and destroying the Stars' End in the process. After the Falcon was repaired, Solo and Chewbacca left the Corporate Sector for a time, taking Bollux and Blue Max with them.
After a disastrous incident on Kamar, where Solo and Chewbacca accidentally began a religion (the Cult of Varn) before having to flee with their lives, they returned to the Corporate Sector. There, they were contracted to transport cargo from Lurr. When they discovered the cargo was a group of Lurrian slaves, Solo freed the slaves and killed the slaver Zlarb. Since they had not been paid for their cargo run, Solo and Chewbacca decided to track down Zlarb's partner on Bonadan and get the promised ten thousand credits as revenge. While on Bonadan, Han was jumped and nearly overcome by a mysterious figure and Chewbacca encountered a skip-tracer, Spray, trying to possess their ship for debts and regulation compliance. However, Han and Chewbacca became mixed up with a CSA Auditor, Hart-and-Parn Gorra-Fiolla, who was investigating the slavers also. Han went to meet an associate of hers, Magg, but he betrayed them. Forced to flee on a swoop bike, they made it off planet after a harrowing encounter and planned to meet up with Chewbacca on Ammuud. Chewbacca was also forced to make a somewhat hurried escape. While Han and Fiolla were on the transport that was taking them to meet Chewbacca, they were attacked by pirates, who were looking for them. They escaped in one of the pirate's craft and landed at the nearby estates of the Mor Glayyd. Han and Chewbacca were eventually reunited after Han saved the Mor Glayyd from a duel which would have gotten him killed. The Glayyd estate provided Han with a way to get back to the Falcon and Chewbacca. As Han was leaving the planet, he was pursued by the pirates/slavers. However, at that point a CSA Victory-class Star Destroyer intervened and tractor beamed both ships. Though they helped her break up the gang, they barely escaped being arrested by another CSA executive, Odumin, who had really been the tracer Spray, and earned the enmity of a hired gun named Gallandro. They did, however, manage to steal the money Solo felt the CSA owed them.
Giving up on the Corporate Sector, the Falcon's crew attempted clotheslegging in the Cron Drift and a currency exchange scam in the Lesser Plooriod Cluster before finding themselves short on cash and stuck in the Tion Hegemony. After several misadventures, they joined with Solo's old friend Badure, a young woman named Hasti, and a Ruurian historian named Skynx on a hunt for Xim the Despot's long-lost treasure ship, Queen of Ranroon. On Dellalt, they finally discovered the treasure vaults. After run-ins with the "Survivors" (the descendants of Xim's soldiers) and their ancient War-Robots, Solo finally discovered the vaults. Though Gallandro followed him to the vaults and challenged the smuggler to a duel, the automatic defense systems killed the gunfighter. Solo and his associates then recovered the treasure—unfortunately for them, after all those years it had become outdated war matériel. The two droids stayed with Skynx when Solo and Chewbacca left the Tion Hegemony.
During this period, Solo and Chewbacca worked for Jabba the Hutt on occasion. They also had several run-ins with the Rebel Alliance. Senators Mon Mothma and Leia Organa became aware of Solo when he began to lead efforts to free Wookiee slaves from Kashyyyk, as a favor to Chewbacca, who had begun to lose friends and family members to the slaving effort. Solo reluctantly allowed the Alliance to help him in this effort, despite his disdain for political causes, and the Alliance soon became one of his frequent employers.
After being saved from an Imperial fleet over Corellia, Han and Chewie helped plant an EMP charge on a shipment that was delivered to an Imperial facility over Corulag and helped steal Mon Calamari cruiser schematics on Carida. This last mission almost got them killed, and afterwards Han swore off involvement with the Alliance and swore to keep his distance from the Galactic Civil War.
At some point in his smuggling career, he partnered with Katya M'Buele as part of a Corellian rim-runner's crew. They were the only survivors among the crew when a suggling operation on Skye was discovered by the planet's Imperial-assigned Majestrix, Kharys.
Solo's heaviest involvement with the fledgling Rebel Alliance occurred when he and other smugglers, including Lando Calrissian and Jarik Solo aided Bria Tharen's Red Hand Squadron in raiding the Ylesian colonies and putting them out of business—a plan endorsed, aided, and supported by Jabba, a business rival of Ylesia. In the subsequent battle, the Alliance forces were victorious, but several smugglers, including Jarik Solo, were killed. Han and his smuggler friends were double-crossed by Tharen who seized all the spice and treasures that were to be the smugglers' reward for the Alliance.
Soon afterwards, he met with Tharen again during a Hutt-sponsored treasure hunt for the Yavin Vassilika. Once again, Tharen took the prize for the Rebellion, while Solo and his smuggling associates were left with nothing. Solo and Tharen left on poor terms on both occasions, since Solo refused to give up his independent ways and join Tharen in the Alliance. However, most of his fellow smugglers assumed that he had been working with Tharen from the beginning. Even one of his closest friends, Lando Calrissian, said that he never wanted to see him again.
Early Galactic Civil War
Han continued to work for Jabba the Hutt as a smuggler, but once, while smuggling glitterstim, Han was boarded by an Imperial patrol and had to dump his load of spice – spice he couldn't recover. Still, as small consolation, Han and Chewbacca made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs after an attempt to recover the dumped spice turned nasty. As a warning, Jabba hired Greedo, a novice bounty hunter, to let Solo know that he was serious about getting paid. However, the Hutt lord was not renowned for patience, and none of Solo's smuggler friends would help him. Solo was also dealt another personal blow at this time, when Boba Fett broke the news of Bria Tharen's death, at the Battle of Toprawa, to Solo.
In an attempt to find the funds to pay off Jabba, Han and Chewbacca were hired to transport an imprisoned crime lord, Tyber Zann off the prison world of Kessel. Though the deal did not transpire exactly as planned, much to Solo's annoyance, the duo transported Zann and his associate Urai Fen as agreed, though only after an increased fee.