Shelley was from Downey, California. He was first paired with Starbuck for a show in 1959, when they were very small children. They started training seriously with coach John Nicks at the Arctic Blades FSC in 1961. In their first year of senior competitions, when they were both 16 years old, they qualified to compete at the 1968 Winter Olympics. Both Starbuck and Shelley attended Downey High School, where they performed off-ice lifts with the cheerleading squad and Long Beach State College.
In the summer of 1969, Shelley had a serious off-ice accident, crashing through a glass patio door at a party. He had surgery to repair two severed tendons and spent 5 weeks in a cast.
After retiring from competitive skating, Starbuck and Shelley skated in the Ice Capades and competed professionally. Shelley was inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1994.