Simmons grew up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He graduated from Westbury High School in Houston, Texas and earned degrees from the State University of New York at Old Westbury, attended Ealing College in West London, and Birmingham-Southern College.
Simmons moved to Birmingham in 2004. He helped create the children's art education programs of the Alys Stephens Center which evolved into Artplay. He serves as an outreach educator with that program.