Clemens's prodigious baseball talents showed themselves early. By seven he was the star pitcher in a league of nine- and ten-year-olds and by adolescence he was
dominating his peer group to the point where his parents felt the need to seek a more competitive environment for him to develop in. His parents shipped him off to live with his brother Randy, in suburban Houston, home of one of Texas's top high school baseball programs. The transition from being the big fish in a small pond to having to prove himself was instrumental in forming Clemens's character. "It was very intimidating for me," Clemens told the Boston Globe. "I was the best player I knew in Dayton. And then suddenly … I was just the third-best pitcher in the rotation. But I decided I wanted to make it to the top and I set certain rules to follow, and discipline just became a habit."
Despite his talent, Clemens did not get the University of Texas scholarship he had dreamed of upon finishing high school in 1980, nor was he drafted by any major league team, though the Minnesota Twins offered him a contract.