When Tyrone Johnson was 17, he ran away to New York City. When he arrived, Tyrone was offered a place to stay by a man named Marshall. Tyrone accepted. Marshall, an agent of a criminal organization called the Maggia, used Tyrone as a guinea pig for his new synthetic "mutant" drug which supposedly supplied the user with superhuman powers. The drug usually delivered mixed results, mostly ending in the subject's death.
Luke Cage, who was on his way to becoming underworld overlord in Hell's Kitchen, led an assault on the complex in search of Maggia agents. During the battle, Tyrone's body exploded with Darkforce energy, inadvertently saving Luke Cage's life. Tyrone collapsed to the floor, but it was obvious the drug was a success. Luke took the sick boy under his wing and was pleasantly surprised by Tyrone's new teleportation powers, talents that would prove quite helpful in Cage's rise to overlord. Luke eventually became a father figure to the boy who would become Cloak.