Sarah Shahi was born Aahoo Jahansouzshahi on (1980-01-10)January 10, 1980 and raised in Euless, Texas, U. S. She is the daughter of Abbas Jahansouzshahi and Mahmonir Soroushazar, an interior designer, who divorced when she was ten. Her father is from Iran. Her father's family left Iran two years before the Iranian Revolution. Her father, who was working at the American embassy in Iran, was slated for execution when the last Shah's regime collapsed in 1979, but was able to flee the country. Her mother was born in Spain, to an Iranian father and a Spanish mother. Shahi has an older brother, Cyrus, and a younger sister, Samantha, who is a production assistant. Her birth name, Aahoo (Persian: آهو), means 'deer' in Persian. Shahi adopted Sarah as her name in second grade after hearing a song called "Sarah" because she was "tormented" by other children about her birth name, Aahoo. At her father's behest, she grew up speaking Persian, in addition to English. Shahi's parents began entering her in beauty pageants at the age of eight. Shahi attended Trinity High School, and Southern Methodist University. She was a member of Alpha Chi Omega during her time at SMU. Shahi won the Miss Fort Worth pageant in 1997. Hoping to become an actress, she joined the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (1999–2000) squad despite not having cheered before. Later, she moved to Los Angeles.