Evans Cercel Grantham was born in Star, Mississippi on March 3, 1924. He was the third child of William M. Grantham (1897-1982) and Erie McDonald Grantham (1912-1980). William and Erie had seven other children: William Joshua Grantham (1921-2004), Joel Ercel Grantham (1922-2003), Margaret Grantham (1928-), Richard Donald Grantham (1930-), Eric W Grantham (1932-), Frank Hagaman Grantham (1934-2002), and Shirley L. Grantham (1935-2008).
Evans lived with his family in Star, Mississippi and received at least an eighth grade education before leaving to enlist in the US Navy. Before enlisting, he worked for his family as a laborer on their farm. Two of his brothers, Joel Ercel Grantham and Frank Hagaman Grantham, also joined the military, with Joel Ercel Grantham serving in World War II in the Marine Corps as a Private and Frank Hagaman Grantham serving as a Private First Class in the US Army after the war.