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This piece features NAMI Ambassador A.J. Mendez, author, advocate and former WWE wrestler. Hear her advice to Latino families and how she believes her bipolar disorder is her superpower.
NAMI explores unique perspectives on mental health from the African-American and Latino communities. Through candid and courageous stories of lived experience, these mental health champions share their journeys of resiliency and recovery.
What do a cheerleader, chef, wrestling champion, and Navy vet have in common? They’ve dealt with mental illness and want everyone to know that it’s OK to talk about it. We interviewed these Chicagoans about their experiences for Mental Illness Awareness Week, October 1 to 7.
The first book from the former AJ Lee, AJ Mendez Brooks, will be released on 4/4/17, titled “Crazy Is My Superpower: How I Triumphed by Breaking Bones, Breaking Hearts, and Breaking the Rules.”
Promotional material for the book notes it will be “a literary memoir chronicling her unlikely rise from 100-pound nerd growing up in extreme poverty and enduring years of abuse, to international sex symbol and professional wrestling champion (known as AJ Lee) who fought against stereotypes, forced the men in her industry to view her with respect, and inspired a huge fan base of over 2 Million Twitter followers with her fierce independent streak.”
Brooks announced her retirement from WWE in April 2015 following a run that began in 2007 when she was signed to a developmental deal. Her run included three WWE Divas championships, a run as the Raw General Manager, a would-be wedding with Daniel Bryan and more.
For everyone wanting more information about AJ’s book, read the text below! Spring 2017 seems so far away, but we’re sure the wait will be worth it!
Leshne Agency is pleased to announce the AJ Brooks book deal! Three-time WWE Diva’s Champion AJ Brooks’ CRAZY IS MY SUPERPOWER, a literary memoir chronicling her unlikely rise from 100-pound nerd growing up in extreme poverty and enduring years of abuse, to international sex symbol and professional wrestling champion (known as AJ Lee) who fought against stereotypes, forced the men in her industry to view her with respect, and inspired a huge fan base of over 2 Million Twitter followers with her fierce independent streak, in a significant deal, on exclusive submission, to Mary Choteborsky at Crown Archetype, an imprint of Penguin Random House, for publication Spring 2017, by Lisa Leshne at The Leshne Agency. Foreign Rights to Sandy Hodgman at Hodgman Literary.
It is a very rare thing to be able to tangibly witness the genesis of any major shift in a culture. More often than not, it is only well after the change has become well established does the population, or Universe as it may be, realize what has actually transpired.
However, thanks to a collective group of fearless females who are determined to protect their house, the culture of WWE’s Divas division has not only completely transformed, but the WWE Universe has been able to witness and be part of this revolution as it has grown and evolved. So, here now are the 10 greatest matches in the history of the Divas division as according to WWE.com, presented by Hulu.
#8 Kaitlyn vs. AJ Lee – Divas Championship Match; WWE Payback 2013
Immediately noticeable when the bell rang on AJ Lee and Kaitlyn’s Divas Championship Match at Payback 2013 was how intensely personal it was. Unlike most other Diva matches of the time period, their conflict was rooted well beyond an exchanging of wins and losses on Raw and SmackDown — there were real stakes here.
The big fight feel that Lee carried with her throughout her WWE career was coursing throughout the air in Chicago’s Allstate Arena as the two former best friends collided. That kinetic energy could be tangibly felt as the Divas amazed with a hard-hitting contest.
AJ made the powerhouse Kaitlyn tap out to her dreaded Black Widow submission hold, winning the championship and going on to hold it for an astounding 295 days, challenging every other Diva on the roster to become better than their perceived best in the process.
AJ reached out to Beautiful Disaster Clothing, a long-time favorite brand of hers, to collaborate on creating an exciting clothing line to benefit PAWS Chicago.
“Beautiful Disaster represents society’s misunderstood rebels – strong, brave women and men who have overcome adversity and shout their individuality from the rooftops.
Together, PAWS Chicago and Beautiful Disaster are the perfect match!” she said. PAWS Chicago is grateful for the partnership, which will directly help save the lives of homeless pets.
“This past February, I was home healing from a surgery and was struggling to keep a positive attitude. I needed a purpose greater than throwing a daily pity party for myself,” said Brooks. “I’ve been a rescue dog mom several times and occasionally found comfort in scrolling through pictures of animals on various adoption center websites, just to fantasize about adding to the family. Then I found my guy on pawschicago.org.”
She continues, “The second I saw his face, pointy bat-like ears, soulful eyes, pronounced under bite, hilariously messy hair, with a bit of an attitude problem to boot – I knew I had found the one. I excitedly showed my husband [UFC Fighter, CM Punk] and he immediately fell in love. We both had a deep connection to this mutty misfit. A few days later the little Wolfman, we named Larry Talbot, was a member of the family and helped nurse me back to health. Our little guy has endured such a hard past but is nothing but gracious and loving. He has brought so much happiness into our home that I wanted to find a way to give back to the amazing people who took care of our furry baby before we could.”
For more information click here! And support this AMAZING project!
RollingStone.COM posted an interview with CM Punk, where he dishes about life and his training for his UFC debut. We couldn’t help but point out a few mentions of AJ, which you may read below:
[…]The other major component that’s helped rewrite Punk’s narrative over the past couple years is marrying former WWE superstar and road ally April “AJ Lee” Mendez-Brooks. He and Mendez-Brooks − whom he affectionately refers to by the shorthand “Ape” − grew to become confidants and close pals while touring with WWE as the promotion’s top male and female superstar, respectively. While trapped in what often felt like a traveling circus with no honesty or transparency, Punk at last found someone he could count on.
“That’s the whole reason I asked her to marry me,” he says with a satisfied smile as the waitress metes out our check. “We were friends on the road for so long and she knew everything about me. I would tell her every stupid thing I ever did, and it’s come back to bite me in the ass in certain respects, but there’s no secrets, and I’d have it no other way.”
And like any grateful husband whose partner supports their latest whim, he’s quick to thank Mendez-Brooks, who’s in Las Vegas for her sister’s wedding at present, “for moving to Milwaukee because I wanna do this stupid thing where I get punched in the face.” He’s also head over heels enough to assert that if “she wants to move somewhere because of something she has an opportunity to do, I would jump at it.”
If there is something we all know about AJ, is the fact that she was always one step ahead of everything…and everyone. Seriously! If you don’t think –setting up your ex-best friend into what we would call “A pretty evil tactic”, mess with her head into a championship match, JUST to get the divas title– is one of the smartest plans you’ve seen? Then, let us explain why it is.
It all started with two best friends who called themselves the “Chickbusters”, and really, they had the cutest friendship ever! But somewhere, somehow…this one goatface managed to sneak his way into AJ’s heart. Now, don’t get us wrong. She was a little warrior, or a spitfire as many called her, but we all have that sensitive side, no?
Long story short, Daniel Bryan broke AJ’s heart. And who was there to help her out? Kaitlyn. She tried so hard to help her friend, to make her REALIZE Daniel wasn’t good for her! Ultimately asking her friend to open her eyes and realize Bryan had changed her, she just…well, she just wasn’t the same anymore.
There’s a slap-a-thon somewhere in this. Oh yeah, AJ slapped Kaitlyn twice, letting her…now former best friend know that, they weren’t friends anymore and most importantly, she wasn’t crazy.
The story gets a little bit complicated at this point, sorta. Don’t tell AJ we’re saying this but she was…crazy. (She really was, but she hates it if you say that word, so please cooperate and keep it between us.) Her love life became a HUGE mess, there were all these guys that just couldn’t resist those flirty looks and her sweet smile…and they all fell for that. Just ask CM Punk! (No, seriously! She pushed him off the turnbuckle, making the poor guy land on a table…he fell hard I tell you!)
While AJ struggled with her heart and everything else, Kaitlyn was fighting her way into the Diva’s championship, ultimately capturing it on January 14th 2013 against the now -also- former diva, Eve Torres!
The journey begins:
Let’s fast forward to April 22nd, 2013! The day AJ became the number one contender for the Diva’s championship after defeating the other divas in a battle royal! How, you wonder? By being a smartass, as always!
So there’s that! Both Chickbusters are pretty much on cloud 9. In one hand you have Kaitlyn and the divas championship. And on the other you have AJ dating Dolph Ziggler (let me tell you, he was pretty nice to her most of the time…until the break up…but we’ll tell you about that some other time.)
Of course our resident geek goddess wasn’t satisfied, because everything she ever wanted, everything she fought for…was just a few gifts and texts away. So let me explain this…basically, Kaitlyn started to receive texts and gifts from a secret admirer. To say the Texan was pretty much -in love- with a person she didn’t know, would be an understatement. One thing’s for sure though, AJ managed to charm her former best friend.
“But even shattered glass, if you handle it wrong? Can cut you pretty deep.”:
This is the part where I introduce to you the one and only Big E! (Also adopted by both AJ & Dolph time before this). On June 10th 2013, Kaitlyn find out her secret admirer was willing to introduce “him”self to her, publicly…in the middle of the ring…(I know, that doesn’t sound good at all and it really wasn’t.)
So there we have the beautiful Kaitlyn, waiting for her secret admirer! And nope, it wasn’t Big E, it was; AJ. “How are you feeling right now, Kaitlyn? Worthless? Alone? Broken? Well that’s exactly how I felt when you abandoned me.” Long story short, the self-proclaimed savior of the Diva’s division played mind games with her former best friend, trying to make her feel…what SHE felt during those horrible times with all those superstars who broke her heart while she was fighting her way into the Diva’s championship.
About damn time we get to the date we, as AJ fans, are commemorating today! June 16th 2013 (Payback)…the day she became the Diva’s champion in one of the BEST diva matches in WWE history, where we just didn’t see two women fighting for a championship title, but two former best friends, going at each other, trying to prove themselves in front of one of the loudest crowds, Illinois. With one spear courtesy of Kaitlyn, the whole WWE Universe thought the small diva was done. But the emotions got the best of the champion, taking too long to pin the challenger and ultimately only reaching the count of two. For AJ one black widow wasn’t enough, using a second one to finally secure the win over the Texan champion.
“I’ve been working for this for fourteen years.”:
After tattooing the date of this wonderful moment on the back of her neck, AJ went on to become the longest reigning Diva’s champion of all time! Scoring 295 days as the champ, defending it against every single diva that conformed the main roster. However, on April 7th 2014, AJ lost her title against the debuting ‘Diva of Tomorrow’ Paige…but you know? That’s a story for another time.
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