Shia LaBeouf was born in Los Angeles, the only child of Shayna (née Saide) and Jeffrey Craig LaBeouf. His mother is a dancer and ballerina turned visual artist and clothing jewelry designer. His father is a Vietnam War veteran who had numerous jobs. LaBeouf's mother is Jewish and his father is a Cajun. Shia LaBeouf was raised in his mother's Jewish religion and had a Bar Mitzvah; He was also baptized in the Angelus church.
Shia LaBeouf has described his parents as "hippies", his father as "tough as nails and a different breed of man", and his upbringing as similar to a "hippy lifestyle", stating that his parents were "pretty weird people, but they loved me and I loved them." The actor also accompanied his father to meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. Shia LaBeouf has also said he was subjected to verbal and mental abuse by his father, who once pointed a gun at his son during a Vietnam War flashback. Shia LaBeouf says his father was "on drugs" during his childhood and was placed in drug rehabilitation for heroin addiction while Shia LaBeouf's mother was "trying to hold down the fort." His parents eventually divorced, mainly due to financial problems, and Shia LaBeouf had what he has described as a "good childhood", growing up poor in Echo Park with his mother, who worked selling fabrics and brooches. Shia LaBeouf's uncle was going to adopt him at one stage because his parents could not afford to have him anymore and "they had too much pride to go on welfare or food stamps." As a way of dealing with his parents' divorce, he would perform for his family, mimicking his father. Shia LaBeouf remains close to and financially supports both of his parents.
He attended 32nd Street Visual and Performing Arts Magnet in Los Angeles (LAUSD) and Alexander Hamilton High School, although he received most of his education from tutors. In an interview, Shia LaBeouf said that, looking back on his childhood, he feels grateful and considers some of those memories scars.
When Shia LaBeouf was 19, after a neighbor in his Studio City apartment complex had allegedly insulted his mother and rear-ended her car, Shia LaBeouf brought a knife, and a friend for backup, to the neighbor's apartment, which resulted in Shia LaBeouf being assaulted by the neighbor and six of the neighbor's friends.