Brodie Lee: Goodbye, Dear Friend

Credit: All Elite Wrestling

As fans, we invest rabidly in what we love.

Sometimes I think it becomes so easily lost on us that as weeks, months and years slip by, what we are actually investing in isn’t necessarily the product, but instead in love itself. We are actively opening our hearts to the human beings that create and help build what captivates our minds. We become taken with them, with their passion, with their humanity, and with their talent. The sacrifices they so freely make so that we may enjoy something that makes us smile – for even a brief moment – are sometimes overlooked but are never forgotten.

It’s so easy to see these real-life action heroes grace our television screens every week and imagine them as immortal. Watching them portray larger than life personalities and literally erupt live crowds of thousands to tens of thousands of people all across the world make them seem like giants among men. It seems a life almost impossible to imagine, but they live it – for us, for their families, and for themselves. For a dream often born in childhood; one that shouldn’t be achievable, but becomes so with raw and unbridled determination and passion.

But the reality remains for all of us, even our heroes, that no one is immortal. When news of the passing of Brodie Lee broke yesterday, my heart broke with it. Like many fans, Brodie represented one of these action heroes I described, but for those who knew more about him than the brilliant characters he portrayed, he was so much more. I didn’t know him personally. I never met the man. But through his art, through his life on screen, and what he chose to dedicate his life to, I think we all knew him to the extent a fan of professional wrestling can.

I didn’t need to know Brodie to see his love for wrestling. It was apparent in his smile. I didn’t need to know Brodie to understand his passion. I could feel it through his always intense, knowing eyes. I didn’t need to know Brodie to grasp the amount of joy he took from living his life the way he wanted. I could hear it every time he laughed. And I didn’t need to know Brodie to reflect on the wonderful human being, husband, and father he so clearly was. I feel it in my soul every time I read and hear it as fact from his countless friends and family throughout the business and beyond.

Brodie Lee wasn’t just an amazing wrestler, but one who conquered such a trying and difficult business with a smile and a work ethic unparalleled. He was an exceptional human who leaves behind a beautiful wife and two wonderful sons, whom he loved with his whole amazing heart. He was a person so genuinely in love with the world of wrestling, that he gave back so unselfishly whenever possible. He was always kind, making sure to include those who needed a boost and standing up for those whose voices had yet to find their place.

His accomplishments speak for themselves. His matches do as well. Please find them. Watch them all. Revel in his talent and ability to not just do things typical big men don’t often do but do them well. Embrace his ability to work well with anyone in the ring. Do all of that and more, but as you do, do me a favor as well. Watch his eyes, look for the occasional smile he lets slip through the character façade, and experience the overwhelming joy he without fail felt doing what he had always wanted to do.

The legacy of a man, contrary to what many believe, is not built by what we conquer and what we win. It is carefully constructed by the love we give, the love made, and the love left behind when we’re gone. Brodie’s legacy will undoubtedly live forever. Through his friends. Through his family. And through all of us. We honor him by not just remembering him for the wrestler he was, but also by remembering him for the supreme human being he was.

Love is something of a misunderstood and often mislabeled word of excess. If life and death teach us anything, it should be that the love we share is immeasurable in its strength and influence on others. Reading so many of the overwhelming outpouring of social media posts yesterday and into today from people who knew and loved Brodie, I think this is something he understood well. The love he left behind is going to be felt forever.

I am honored to remember Brodie Lee the wrestler and Jon Huber the man. I’m heartbroken for his family and friends. The level to which his loss will be felt is crushing. I wish to thank him for the memories and for the passion. For chasing a dream and living it well. For giving us a super-hero to love and a villain to despise. For allowing us an escape when we needed one most. For loving with his whole heart and not taking anything for granted. And for showing us the way.

“When Great Trees Fall”
Maya Angelou

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance, fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance of
dark, cold caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period, peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

Credit: Chris Jericho

We miss you Brodie. We love you.

You know what that means.