Willie Gay Jr was born on February 15, 1998, in Starkville, Mississippi. He is the son of Bridgett and Willie Gay Sr. His mother gave him the nickname “Chip” as she claimed he was sweet as a chocolate chip. He attended Starkville High School and played in the 2017 US Army All-American Bowl. In 2015 his football team won the Class 6A state title, and he was a consensus four-star prospect. He also occasionally played quarterback, rushing for 325 yards and 5 TDs in a game against Warren Central. He chose to attend Mississippi State University, where he majored in psychology.
At Mississippi State, He played in all 13 games of his freshman season as a true freshman, playing special teams and backup linebacker. As a sophomore he won the starting job and played all 13 games. He only played 5 games his junior year having been suspended for eight games for violating team rules. After that season he entered the NFL draft where he was chosen by the Chiefs in the 2nd round of the 2020 draft.