Derek was born in Seacouver, Washington in 1976. As a young man, he became a gospel singer in his church, led by Reverend Bell. In 1996, Derek was leaving the church after choir practice, and on his way down the street, a car drove by, and the driver shot him several times. Bell ran to Derek but found him dead.
Later in the morgue, a man wearing a long white robe was there when Derek revived. The man told him that he was God, and he had brought Derek back to serve him.
A few days later, Duncan MacLeod was jogging one morning, when Derek and two other Immortals ambushed him and tried to take his head. Duncan managed to run to his car and get his sword but was shocked that the three men disregarded the rule of "One on One" in any challenge. MacLeod ran towards a cemetery and the refuge of Holy Ground, with the three Immortals pursuing. MacLeod managed to disarm Derek, protesting that they could not fight on Holy Ground. He was informed by Derek that he was an angel of the lord sent to kill him.
He discovered that their leader was Gavriel Larca, who sent them away, agreeing that even the devil could have sanctuary on Holy Ground. MacLeod and Larca had encountered each other previously, in 1830 in Peru. Larca wanted revenge upon MacLeod for destroying his comfortable little stint as a god there.
Derek later admitted that he was having doubts about what he'd been asked to do. Larca informed him that he was under his protection. MacLeod was deeply concerned about the perversion of the rules being instilled in the three young immortals and planned to talk to them alone without Larca. He hoped to inform them of what they were - what they all were, without Larca's mad plots confusing the issue.
Troubled, Derek returned to his church and met Reverend Bell there who was understandably stunned that he was alive. Derek asked him to explain why he was alive. Duncan finds Derek in the church and asked to speak with him alone. Bell, suspicious, finally agreed to step outside while Duncan explained to Derek that they were both Immortals, as was Larca, that they were not divine or satanic, but merely men of a different sort. Confused and upset Derek ran out of the church.
When Duncan tried to follow, Reverend Bell stopped him, and demanded an explanation. Duncan reluctantly took him to Joe's where the two of them explained Immortals, the game, and the Watchers to him over a drink.
Derek returned to the chapel where Larca, Enrique and Luke were and to be cleansed. Reverend Bell arrived with a gun and a sword hoping to help Derek and kill Larca. Derek refused Larca's call to destroy the reverend, to kill MacLeod. When MacLeod arrived, the two men finally met off Holy Ground and Larca lost his head to the Highlander.
Duncan and Joe decided to send Derek to train with Carl Robinson. Joe also took advantage of Reverend Bell new found knowledge and recruited as Derek's Watcher.