Born in London in the early 1970s, Joynson-Hicks grew up the only boy among four children. His mother was raised in Kenya. Led by her Christian faith, she helped build AIDS hospices across Britain and Uganda, earning an award from Queen Elizabeth II for her work. His father, a lawyer, served on the boards of several nonprofit groups.
After a "relatively normal upbringing," as he puts it, Joynson-Hicks skipped college and landed a job as a photographer's assistant in London, where he built a successful career in commercial photography.
In 1993 he moved to Uganda to work on his first book of photos. After its successful publication, he went on a safari with his parents, who gave him a new perspective.
"So now that you're here, you've got your book, you've got a nice life ... what are you doing for Uganda?" they asked.
"They opened my eyes to the possibility that I had an opportunity to make a difference, and saw in me characteristics I didn't realize I had," Joynson-Hicks recalls.
He spent several nights on the streets of Kampala, Uganda – sleeping curled up behind trash cans and talking with street children – to see how he could help.
The answer turned out to be simple.
"We'd like to eat and play football [soccer]," the kids said.
A week later, Joynson-Hicks, a friend, and 10 "boisterous, smelly" street kids piled into his Land Cruiser and headed out with a soccer ball and a feast packed.
"They still had glue and gasoline sticking to their clothes ... but they were full of great character!" Joynson-Hicks says.
The Tigers Football Club became a weekly occurrence, growing to serve hundreds of street children and providing entertainment, empowerment, and even basic health care to disadvantaged youths.
The ragtag group managed to win Kampala's Kadya Youth Trophy, beating established youth groups and schools while playing barefoot. "It's still my proudest sporting trophy," Joynson-Hicks says.