How Brodie Lee’s Son Is Persevering with His Wrestling Legacy

Lena Weib

EIGHT-YEAR-OLD BRODIE HUBER had seen loads of championship coronations play out earlier than, and so forth the night time of December 30, 2020, he tried to carry out accordingly, channeling the skilled wrestling bravado he’d realized from his late father. Wearing a navy swimsuit and a black wrestling masks with purple trim, Brodie slid the 10-pound AEW TNT Championship belt up his left arm and, with some help from wrestling celebrity Cody Rhodes, over his shoulder.

He stood tall contained in the ring at Every day’s Place in Jacksonville, Florida, because the socially distanced crowd chanted his title.

“Brodie! Brodie! Brodie! Brodie!”

It was additionally the title his father made well-known. Jonathan Huber, a 17-year wrestling veteran, reached his peak taking part in the wrestling character Mr. Brodie Lee, a brooding, majestically bearded cult chief of the purple-clad Darkish Order, a group of youthful, principally masked wrestlers, a few of whom glided by numbers as a substitute of names. At 6-foot-5 and 275 kilos, Brodie Lee had a booming voice, bulging eyes, and unmatched physicality. He performed a heel, however followers adored him.

Lower than three months earlier, on October 7, 2020, Brodie Lee had misplaced the TNT Championship belt towards Rhodes in a dog-collar match. (For the uninitiated, meaning they wore leather-based canine collars and had been chained collectively.) It might transform his last efficiency. Weeks later, Jonathan felt unexpectedly winded and had bother respiration. He was finally airlifted to the hospital, the place household and shut buddies watched his situation progressively and horrifically worsen, till on December 26, 2020, Jonathan was pronounced lifeless from a uncommon lung situation.

Jonathan Huber, performing as Brodie Lee, claims his first TNT Championship in August 2020.

All Elite Wrestling

Little Brodie accepted his dad’s outdated belt solely 4 days later. On the time, he was flanked by Rhodes, AEW president and CEO Tony Khan, and his mom, Amanda, who wore a black costume and cried into the chest of Darkish Order disciple Preston “10” Vance. In the midst of the ring, a brilliant highlight shone on a pair of Brodie Lee’s black size-14 wrestling boots and a purple handkerchief. A couple of million followers had been watching reside on TNT’s Dynamite showcase as the mantra for Brodie continued.

As almost everybody is aware of, skilled wrestling is basically a scripted, athletics-based morality play, one which hinges on followers agreeing to droop disbelief for the sake of the present. Sure, we all know it’s pretend; that’s form of the purpose. We relish the ridiculous drama as a lot because the superkicks. As Khan later defined to me, the Brodie Lee tribute was a method to say goodbye to Jonathan whereas honoring his son’s dream.

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Brodie Huber hopes to observe in his father’s footsteps as knowledgeable wrestler.

Courtesy of Amanda Huber

“After what his father, the late, nice Brodie Lee, had completed to assist this firm, I owe it to him, and the corporate owes it to him, that we mentor Brodie and take care of him and provides him an opportunity to be a wrestler,” Khan mentioned in an interview with MH in February.

So Brodie Huber took the stage as Brodie Lee Jr. That blend of fantasy and actuality could be a bit overwhelming for any eight-year-old, not to mention one who had simply misplaced his father. Once we talked just lately, Brodie, now 10, admitted that behind the masks he was crying.

“All people’s watching me maintain this belt,” he instructed me in a high-pitched voice throughout a Zoom name along with his mother in late April, almost a yr and a half after the occasion. “It was superb. However on the similar time, it wasn’t.”

Then his voice started to quaver. “Holding the belt that my dad held, simply to be in that second, was … it was positively … it was laborious.”

For Brodie Huber, the onstage memorial wasn’t a finale however a brand new starting. Over the previous yr and a half, Brodie Lee Jr. has grow to be an official member of the Darkish Order, full with a hoop title: -1. He’s emerged because the wrestling world’s first baby star, one who’s navigating a number of the similar points as many children who grow to be well-known, with one bigger complication. Loads of athletes have channeled grief into nice performances. However is it wholesome for somebody so younger to work via grief on such a public and aggressive stage?

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Brodie Huber performs as Brodie Lee Jr. at his father’s memorial tribute on December 30, 2020.

All Elite Wrestling

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MONTHS BEFORE HIS DEATH, Jonathan Huber appeared to sense that one thing was off along with his physique. “I left a bit of me in there [that night],” Huber mentioned throughout an interview on the AEW Unrestricted podcast that was taped in late October 2020, referencing his match towards Rhodes for the TNT Championship. Huber revealed he had just lately skilled bother respiration on his Peloton bike however was beginning to really feel higher.

As a substitute he obtained worse. On November 1, 2020, Huber was airlifted from Tampa to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, the place he was placed on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine to artificially help his respiration. Three weeks later, on November 22, Huber suffered a panic assault, and his sharp, speedy respiration triggered much more scarring in his lungs.

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He was nonetheless bedridden for his ninth wedding ceremony anniversary, on December 13, after which his birthday three days later. The shortage of an official prognosis proved much more irritating as a number of Covid exams had come again unfavorable. About the identical time, Huber contracted a bacterial an infection, and since he was already so immunocompromised, it raged to the purpose that the Mayo Clinic deemed him ineligible for a lung transplant.

A physician known as Amanda on Christmas Eve to inform her it was time to start end-of-life care: Huber’s kidneys and coronary heart had been failing. After doing her finest to supply Brodie and his youthful brother, Nolan, a “regular” Christmas, Amanda took her husband off life help on December 26. He was 41 years outdated.

Information of Huber’s dying—posthumously characterised as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a uncommon lung situation for which there isn’t a recognized supply—despatched waves via the wrestling neighborhood, with AEW and WWE performers alike sharing tributes on social media. “[Huber] cried with me after I cried after George Floyd was killed,” WWE performer Ettore “Large E” Ewen wrote on Twitter. “He’d textual content and name folks he barely knew when he heard they had been sick or grieving. His kindness was boundless.”

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Amanda Huber holds her youthful son, Nolan, whereas showing with Brodie (in costume) in the course of the Brodie Lee tribute.

All Elite Wrestling

Ewen and Rhodes had been within the Jacksonville lodge room when Amanda broke the information to Brodie, who collapsed into her arms. Then Ewen, the 5-foot-11, 285-pound former faculty soccer defensive lineman, who Brodie now calls his “finest good friend,” scooped Brodie up and held him. Rhodes additionally hugged and consoled them.

The next day, Amanda, Brodie, and Nolan attended a Jacksonville Jaguars recreation as Khan’s friends. (Khan co-owns the NFL franchise alongside along with his father, Shahid.) There, Khan remembers telling Amanda that he was planning the tribute present for that week’s Dynamite. “She mentioned, ‘There’s not going to be a [public] funeral. So no matter you do goes to be like a funeral on TV,’” Khan says.

For Khan, that second of tribute bolstered one purpose. Seconds after the present went off the air, he remembers kneeling right down to hug Brodie. “This,” he says he thought on the time, “is barely the start.”

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LIKE A WRESTLING SHOWMAN, Brodie flips onto his again and rolls right into a seated place on his bed room carpet, smiling extensive into his laptop computer webcam. It’s late April 2022, and the 10-year-old has his blond hair parted to 1 aspect and wears a blue Toy Story T-shirt that reads “You’ve Obtained a Pal in Me.” After I ask about his day, he sighs and says he simply obtained house from a day of fourth grade. It was boring.

Brodie shifts round on the ground and fiddles with a ballpoint pen, sometimes laughing as he solutions questions. When he will get older, he plans to develop an enormous, bushy beard, identical to his dad, and he hopes to at some point win the AEW World Championship.

Watch Mr. Brodie Lee’s tribute

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“I wish to be identical to him,” Brodie says with the form of youthful conviction that life merely can’t go some other method.

The wrestling trade is crammed with second- and third-generation stars who tagged alongside backstage with their dad and mom as children. There’s Rhodes, the 14-time WWE World Champion Randy Orton, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, to call a couple of. What makes Brodie completely different is that he’s dedicated to studying the right way to carry out in actual time in entrance of actual audiences.

Because the tribute, Brodie has grow to be a semi-regular AEW character, making a pair appearances on Dynamite and a few dozen extra on the YouTube reveals Darkish and Darkish: Elevation. The stakes are ostensibly low: He’s not a part of long-running storylines, and he solely attends tapings as soon as a month, when AEW is at Common Studios in Orlando for YouTube tapings, about an hour from his house in Tampa.

However these onstage moments can get pretty aggressive. Take his first reside wrestling promo: On an episode of the AEW collection Darkish, which aired in early January 2021, Brodie stepped into the ring to confront Marko Stunt, who at 5-foot-2 was the lone male AEW performer on the time who didn’t tower over him. (Stunt has since left the corporate.) “After I’m older and I battle you, I’m going to be so a lot taller than you,” Brodie mentioned mockingly. Stunt dropped his microphone and pushed Brodie, resulting in a pull-apart brawl, with Rhodes and Khan, amongst others, working to the ring to interrupt up the confrontation.

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Brodie poses with the TNT Championship and AEW World Championship belts.

courtesy of Amanda Huber

Once we talked, Brodie instructed me he wasn’t given a script beforehand and got here up with the promo on the spot: “It was superior, to be, like, a type of wrestlers who doesn’t even have to consider the promo. Growth, it’s there.”

Then there was a more moderen second, when throughout a Darkish: Elevation match Brodie stole an opponent’s cowboy hat and sprinted across the ring, main the opponent proper right into a shoulder block from Vance. “Did I do this?” Brodie mentioned mockingly to the digital camera, earlier than using the felled adversary like a horse.

Watch Brodie’s first reside wrestling promo:

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AEW hasn’t shied away from referencing critics’ considerations onscreen, both. When Brodie appeared as -1 throughout a latest episode of Dynamite in Jonathan Huber’s hometown of Rochester, New York, the wrestler QT Marshall, one in every of AEW’s greatest heels, interrupted the promo and instructed the child that his father might need been a legend, however he appeared extra like a charity case.

After different Darkish Order members had completely crushed up Marshall, Brodie tore off his personal Darkish Order shirt in mock anger and supplied the ending catcall. “Pay attention, I might pin you proper now,” he shouted. “However you already know, I’m gonna wait.”

Such antics have made Brodie one thing of a viral star already—his appearances acquire a whole lot of hundreds of views on YouTube. Though a few of these clicks have come from Brodie himself. In early 2021, for a couple of months after his dad died, Amanda says her son lived one thing of a “Hannah Montana life”—collaborating in digital college in the course of the day and attending AEW tapings in the course of the night time in Jacksonville, with some sporadic in-ring coaching classes behind closed doorways.

tony khan brodie huber belt

AEW president Tony Khan fingers Brodie his father’s championship belt in the course of the tribute present.

All Elite Wrestling

In early April of that very same yr, Amanda realized his grades had began to slide. The subsequent day she peered over Brodie’s shoulder at his desk setup on the dining-room desk throughout college. He wasn’t finishing his assigned work however watching the confrontation with Stunt.

“Are you kidding me?” Amanda remembers saying. Then she checked out his search historical past:

“Greatest clotheslines”

“Luke Harper WWE”

“Indie wrestling”

“Greatest powerbombs compilation”

“-1 promo towards Marko Stunt”

Amanda promptly put in web site blockers and put a short lived halt on Brodie attending AEW reveals. “I do know he desires to be a wrestler,” she says, including that she had the identical childhood dream. “I absolutely help that. But when he modifies his thoughts, I don’t need him to be caught.”

After a couple of weeks’ time-out from wrestling, Amanda says Brodie was finding out laborious sufficient to return to filming segments. Actually, throughout one other latest Zoom name that I had along with her and Brodie earlier this yr, Amanda was sitting on a bench at Disney World in Orlando, dodging French fries thrown by Brodie. He had simply turned 10 per week earlier, and the journey was a reward for him getting his grades again on observe.

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“[Being involved] helps me as a result of, like, I’m ‘Carrying the Legacy’ of my dad,” Brodie mentioned between rides that day, referencing the title of the darkish cinematic rock theme tune that AEW has designated as his personal entrance music.

As we talked, Amanda defined that over the previous yr, Brodie had begun to behave extra grown-up at tapings, rejecting issues like playful requests from AEW wrestler Tay Conti to bounce along with her backstage, as he had completed throughout earlier appearances. “He tries so laborious to be cool. He’s side-eyeing me proper now,” she mentioned, chuckling.

“Now, he’s rising up, and he’s like, ‘I’m not cute anymore. I’m a badass,’” Conti instructed me in a separate name. “I am going to hug him, and he’s like, ‘Oh, I don’t care.’ [He’s being] a badass.”

Brodie’s tall for his age, standing about 4-foot-11. And he’s been pressured to mature in different methods. He is aware of in regards to the trolls on Twitter who’ve accused Amanda of “pimping” out her baby. When she publicly responded by sharing along with her 30,000 followers that Brodie doesn’t but receives a commission for appearances, others chided her for letting the corporate “exploit” her son with out compensation.

brodie huber tay conti amanda huber anna jay

(From left) Brodie Huber as -1, Tay Conti, Amanda Huber, and Anna Jay on the AEW Dynamite present in Rochester, N.Y., on September 29, 2021.

All Elite Wrestling

“That’s not it, both!” Amanda says to me at one level. She says that AEW has dealt with their state of affairs with “such grace and such kindness … that I personally don’t really feel like they’ve exploited him, or taken benefit of us. The whole lot’s at all times felt to me prefer it’s completed with nothing however love. I believe individuals are skeptical and pessimistic and assume that it’s much more sinister than it’s.”

Amanda says Brodie isn’t incomes a wage however he’ll acquire entry to an account crammed with royalties from his AEW T-shirts and different merchandise when he turns 18. She received’t speculate about how a lot that may very well be. “Once more, everyone would have a distinct method of dealing with this. I’m doing my finest. I’m attempting. There’s likelihood I’m screwing one thing up alongside the best way,” she says.

For Brodie, the state of affairs appears much less advanced. “I do it,” he says merely, “as a result of I like it. And my dad did it.”

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AS THE SAYING GOES, it takes a village to lift a toddler. In Brodie’s case, that village is made up of professional wrestlers, so issues usually get bodily. As a result of the Hubers reside down the road from WWE performer Natalya Neidhart and her husband, WWE producer TJ Wilson, Brodie usually practices at their in-home ring. “They educate him lots of the fundamental stuff, so when he truly does begin coaching, he’s going to be leaps and bounds forward of everyone,” Amanda says.

Final summer season Brodie additionally visited the Nightmare Manufacturing facility, the Atlanta-area health club run by Rhodes and Marshall, to learn to safely throw clotheslines and large boots, two staples of his father’s transfer set. Besides he’s not fairly there but. “They had been like, ‘We’re going to work on this slightly bit extra if you’re older,’” Amanda says.

brodie huber at nightmare factory

Brodie Huber has educated on the Nightmare Manufacturing facility in Georgia.

Courtesy of Amanda Huber

Vance, one of many newer members of the Darkish Order on the time of the tribute present, stays shut with Brodie. The 2 first met throughout an AEW taping on December 23, 2020, whereas his dad was within the hospital. “Ever since then, he was simply drawn to me,” Vance says. “[During the tribute show], I hugged him and I instructed him, ‘I’ll at all times be right here for you, and I’ll at all times be your good friend.’ After which I simply held him.”

qt marshall, one of aew's biggest heels, interrupted the promo and told the kid that he seemed like a charity case

Brodie now works on-camera as Vance’s supervisor. Offstage, they work out and play video video games collectively whereas Brodie plans out future storylines. Vance says Brodie just lately FaceTimed him with an thought for when he turns 18: The pair, performing as “babyfaces” (good guys), will win the AEW World Tag Staff Championship, and when Brodie turns to rejoice with the gang, Vance will kick him within the face, turning right into a heel and triggering an epic feud.

The child is clearly planning forward. “That’s, like, the longest [range] storytelling in wrestling historical past,” Vance says.

brodie and preston

Preston “10” Vance has grow to be one in every of Brodie Huber’s finest buddies on the AEW roster.

Courtesy of Amanda Huber

In latest months Brodie’s additionally turned issues up a notch. Throughout an intermission at a Darkish: Elevation taping, he obtained into the ring and climbed to the highest rope. Together with his again to the ring, he leapt and flipped his physique in a backflip, finishing a picture-perfect moonsault onto a crash pad.

Vance was watching with a pair trainees available for the present, one in every of whom verbalized what all of them had been pondering: “That child’s going to be a prodigy.”

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BRODIE LOVES WRESTLING a lot that generally the urge to maintain going merely overcomes him. Late at night time, he’ll spring off the bed and activate the sunshine. He’ll think about slipping into his father’s boots and into the ring. He’s not -1, the hyper child at ringside, however a totally grown Brodie Lee Jr., the AEW heavyweight and menacing spitting picture of his hero.

His opponent, a large stuffed bear within the nook of his bed room, has no likelihood. His transfer set is acquainted: Large Boot. Clothesline. Then comes the pin. The referee counts: 1, 2, 3. “As soon as I do it, I don’t wish to cease,” he says about how labored up he will get in these moments.

The fantasy follows Brodie round all day lengthy. He cuts imaginary promos in his bed room, within the rest room mirror, and even in public. “He tells everyone, he’s like, ‘My title is Brodie Lee Jr., and I’m going to hold on my father’s legacy,’” Amanda says.

His mom nonetheless tries to bolster what’s acceptable across the ring versus in actual life. She believes, particularly as a result of he’s grown up in a wrestling household, that Brodie has a wholesome understanding that his wrestling persona is stagecraft. “He’s conscious [and] much more mature than you’d count on from a 10-year-old,” she says.

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Brodie and his mother hug within the ring in the course of the tribute to his father.

All Elite Wrestling

She’s additionally requested Brodie to not wrestle along with his buddies in school. On one event, when an in depth good friend wished a crash course on “locking up”—a transfer the place two wrestlers seize the again of one another’s neck, usually to start a match—she says that Brodie took the lead and proceeded slowly.

He generally nonetheless must be reminded to take issues straightforward on his youthful brother, nevertheless. “He had [Nolan] in some submission the opposite night time, and Nolan simply was screaming,” Amanda says, chuckling. “He was like, ‘He received’t faucet! Make him faucet!’ I used to be like, ‘He’s 4! He’s not going to faucet! Simply let him go!’”

Not that she’s frightened about that conduct. “I bear in mind doing that very same stuff to my little brother,” she says.

Huber used to joke that wrestling was a mistress with whom he was in an abusive relationship, Amanda says. He didn’t need his son to be a wrestler. He’d be a chemist, or possibly a health care provider.

However that doesn’t imply Huber wasn’t happy with the legacy he was creating. In an outdated interview that recirculated after his death, Huber famous he’d saved the entire motion figures made in his likeness—not for himself, however to at some point give to Brodie. (On the time, Nolan wasn’t born but.) “For him to have the ability to see what I’ve completed, and the individual that [wrestling] has made me, I can’t actually describe it,” Huber mentioned on the time.

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Brodie, performing as -1, receives his first-ever motion determine in March 2022.

Courtesy of Amanda Huber

I ask Amanda what Huber would make of his son’s accelerated path within the sport. “He would inform you he completely hates it,” Amanda says. “However I may inform you that deep down, in his coronary heart, he can be simply effervescent over the moon.”

After I ask Brodie about the identical subject throughout one in every of our video calls, he pulls himself up from his bed room flooring and sits cross-legged: “I guess if he was right here, he would in all probability change his thoughts,” he says. “He simply wished me to be pleased. If he had been right here, to have him see me be within the happiest place, me being within the happiest temper, I really feel like that might brighten up his day.”

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IN MARCH, THE DAY BEFORE AEW’s Revolution pay-per-view occasion, Brodie donned purple-and-white wrestling trunks and a white masks to look as -1 contained in the Addition Monetary Area in Orlando. He was a part of the invoice for AEW Fan Fest, an unscripted occasion held the day earlier than the principle promotion.

Together with his mother, brother, and Vance by his aspect, Brodie stepped into the ring to obtain a small token of his rising recognition: the primary Brodie Lee Jr. motion determine.

A consultant from the toy firm Ringside Collectibles handed Brodie the field, and there he was: -1. Nevertheless it was a twin set, and beside -1 stood a plastic model of Mr. Brodie Lee. Father and son, collectively once more, proper there in his fingers.

Brodie inspected the field, put his proper hand over his coronary heart, and took some deep breaths. He knew this was coming, however the second appeared to overwhelm him. Nolan seemed up at him, beaming. Vance patted his shoulder. Amanda rubbed his again. And the gang started a well-known chant.

“Brodie! Brodie! Brodie! Brodie!”

As soon as once more, the masks helped disguise his tears. It was his father’s title. But additionally his title, now greater than ever.

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