She is April Jeanette Brooks, or also known as AJ Lee. She is an American professional wrestler signed to WWE under the ring name AJ Lee. She is a former three-time WWE Divas Champion and holds the longest reign in the title’s history at 295 days.
AJ began her career performing on the New Jersey independent circuit as Miss April, mostly in Women Superstars Uncensored. After joining WWE in 2009, she spent two years in its developmental territory, Florida Championship Wrestling, and took part in the third season of NXT in 2010, placing third in the competition. In 2012, after being involved in several on-screen relationships with wrestlers feuding over the promotion’s world championships, while also serving as Raw General Manager for three months, AJ was named WWE‘s “Diva of the Year“. In June 2013, AJ captured her first WWE Divas Championship by defeating Kaitlyn.
April Jeanette Mendez was born March 19, 1987, in Union City, New Jersey. She is of Puerto Rican heritage, and the youngest of three siblings. She describes her family’s experience while growing up as having to live in motels, other people’s houses, and their car. She cited her brother’s childhood interest in WWE as an influence on her decision to break into the male-dominated world of wrestling, and she cemented her ambition to pursue a professional wrestling career when she was 12 years old. She was inspired by the female WWE stars that came before her, especially Lita, whom she met as a child at an autograph signing. A video of the encounter, which shows the young Mendez being brought to tears by the meeting, has surfaced on YouTube.
After graduating from Memorial High School, Mendez worked several jobs in order to save up the money she needed to both support her family and enroll in wrestling school. She attended New York University‘s Tisch School of the Arts in New York City, where she majored in film and television production and writing, until family and financial issues led to her dropping out six months into her studies. As an homage to her brother, who was in the U.S. Army, Mendez once wore camouflage wrestling attire.
Mendez married Phil Brooks, better known as CM Punk, on June 13, 2014. They live in Chicago, Illinois. She was previously in a relationship with her trainer Jay Lethal. Mendez describes herself as a “tomboy” and credits her brother for getting her interested in comic books, anime and video games. She has a tattoo in tally marks on the back of her neck, which read as “6-16-13”, commemorating the date on which she won her first WWE Divas Championship.
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