Troy Kotsur grew up in Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona, where his father was police chief. He was born deaf and attended the Phoenix Day School for the Deaf and Westwood High School, where he appeared in a school pantomime and got the acting bug looking at, but not being able to hear, the standing ovation he received. Kotsur studied theater, television, and film at Gallaudet University in Washington D.C., but left after two years to join the Deaf West Theatre in Los Angeles, where he starred in productions that included Cyrano, Of Mice and Men and A Streetcar Named Desire. He was nominated for the 2015 LA Drama Critics Circle Award in the Deaf West Theatre production of Spring Awakening and appeared on Broadway in the Tony Award-nominated ASL (American Sign Language) production of Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In addition to appearing in TV series including CSI: NY, Scrubs and Criminal Minds, Kotsur also adapted a form of sign language to play a Tusken raider in a 2019 episode of The Mandalorian, becoming the first deaf actor to appear in a Star Wars production.