He was born and raised in Providence, KY. Mason was an educator and a civil rights activist. His family later moved to Seaside, CA and he attended Monterey Peninsula College. He excelled in basketball there; I imagine being 6’10” really helped is game. He graduate in 1960 and later played basketball at Monterey Peninsula College, which was a junior college. He left college after one year to go to the military and was named All-Air Force; he was the youngest player to do so.