James T. Kirk was born and raised in Riverside, Iowa in the year 2233. Diane Carey's novel Best Destiny identifies Kirk's parents as George and Winona Kirk.
Best Destiny and Carey's Final Frontier novel describe George Kirk's adventures aboard the USS Enterprise under the command of Captain Robert April.
Although born on Earth, Kirk for a time lived on Tarsus IV, where he was one of nine surviving witnesses to the massacre of 4,000 colonists by Kodos the Executioner.
James Kirk's brother George Samuel Kirk is first mentioned in "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" and introduced and killed in "Operation: Annihilate!", leaving behind three children.
At Starfleet Academy, Kirk became the only student to defeat the Kobayashi Maru test, garnering a commendation for original thinking by reprogramming the computer to make the "no-win scenario" winnable. Kirk was granted a field commission as an ensign and posted to advanced training aboard the USS Republic. He then was promoted to lieutenant junior grade and returned to Starfleet Academy as a student instructor. Students could either "think or sink" in his class, and Kirk himself was "a stack of books with legs".
Upon graduating in the top five percent, Kirk was promoted to lieutenant and served aboard the USS Farragut. While assigned to the Farragut, Kirk commanded his first planetary survey and survived a deadly attack that killed a large portion of the Farragut's crew. He received his first command, the equivalent of a destroyer-type spaceship, while still quite young.
Kirk became Starfleet's youngest captain when he received command of the USS Enterprise for a five-year mission, three years of which are depicted in the original Star Trek series. Kirk's most significant relationships in the television series are with first officer Spock and chief medical officer Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy.
Although Kirk throughout the series becomes romantically involved with various women, when confronted with a choice between a woman and the Enterprise, "his ship always won".