Before Lance became the Blue Paladin, he was a cadet at in the Galaxy Garrison studying as pilot. He idolized Shiro as his hero. Lance was a classmate of Keith, who was considered the best pilot of their generation. Lance claims there was a rivalry between them, but there was certainly a difference in skill as Keith was designated fighter class while Lance was designated as a cargo pilot. Due to Keith's sudden expulsion, however, Lance was promoted to fighter class and Hunk, a friend and fellow cadet, became his team's engineer. They were also joined by Pidge, a cadet they did not recognize, but who would serve as their communications specialist.
After a failed simulated flight and a scolding from, Lance manages to sneak out of the Galaxy Garrison along with Hunk to investigate Pidge's actions in the middle of the night. This leads the three cadets to meet the expelled Keith, a rescue mission for Shiro, and a start of an unlikely team.