Sam was the result of a one-night stand between teenagers Bobby Warner and Kelsey Jefferson. Kelsey agreed to give the baby to Edmund and Maria when it was born, but changed her mind almost immediately. She began fighting to get Sam back only weeks after he was born, and before he was five months old, Kelsey had been awarded custody of her son. Kelsey manipulated Bobby into getting married, and Bobby manipulated Kelsey into signing custody of Sam over to Edmund and Maria. Kelsey had planned to leave Pine Valley and return to Portland with Sam, but after temporarily losing him at the airport, Kelsey realized she wasn't ready to be a parent yet and let Bobby take Sam back to Edmund and Maria.
Sam was so young when Maria died in a plane crash that he barely remembered her. Sam and Maddie were very close growing up, and often developed close relationships with the women in Edmund's life, particularly Brooke. When Maria turned out to be alive and well, Sam and Maddie were thrilled to have their mother home and alive, but hurt because it meant they would be losing Brooke as their mother, which they'd gotten used to. Not long after Maria returned home, Sam was sent to France on an exchange program, and when he returned home, his father was dead, apparently murdered by Maria's former lover, Zach Slater. Sam and Maddie were both furious with Maria and blamed her for Edmund's death. Even though Zach was cleared, Sam remained angry with Maria.
Sam began demanding answers about his biological parents, and Maria and Anita finally told him that his parents were Bobby Warner (who had recently divorced Anita and disappeared for parts unknown) and Kelsey Jefferson. Sam immediately wanted to go live with Tad, but Tad told him to go back home to Maria. He also began growing closer to Lily Montgomery, and despite her dislike of being touched, was the first person to kiss her. Maria left town to take Maddie to California to be near Hayley and Mateo and to get a fresh start, and agreed to let Sam stay behind with the Martin family. When Lily began seeing a ghost at Wildwind, he was upset to know she believed it was his father, but happy to find out it was his aunt Julia, on the run from the mob, even though he wasn't happy that Zach was helping her.
After Edmund's killer, Jonathan Lavery, was discovered not to have died in the mine explosion, Sam was incensed. He took a gun and planned to kill Jonathan until Julia talked him out of it. When his arguing with Lily got worse and worse because they couldn't agree on Jonathan, Lily broke up with him, and Sam finally realized that there was nothing left for him in Pine Valley and went to California to be with Maria and Maddie.