This is where Alaskan Bush People star Billy Brown was before the fame

Discovery Channel’s Alaskan Bush People has often raised more questions than it has answered. Where does the Brown family really live? Is the show fake or are these wilderness adventures legit? What’s up with the accents that the Brown kids all seem to have? These are fair questions for viewers as we watch the family, led by dad Billy Brown and mom, Ami Brown, navigate the unpredictable terrain of the Alaskan wild.

We’re here to answer some of these questions, at least regarding one familiar face: Billy Brown. The patriarch of the brood has a fascinating and downright tragic backstory prior to reaching fame through the reality series. Billy grew up in Texas, far away from the remote state with which he would soon become identified. According to Men’s Journal, Billy was actually raised in an upper-middle-class home, but that was all taken away from him in a tragic accident. Read all about the life of Billy Brown before the fame.

Billy Brown's tragic family story

Billy Brown grew up in a happy home in Texas with his mother, father, and one sister. However, when Billy was only 16-years-old, his entire family died in a plane crash, according to his Discovery Channel bio.

While flying across Texas in a private plane in 1969, his parents and sister got caught in a thunderstorm, according to Men’s Journal. To make matters even worse, Billy “was allegedly tricked into signing documents for an emancipation,” meaning that he lost his family’s home and money. He was left completely on his own and as a result, wandered through the United States for ten years.

He wound up working for a commercial fishing company in the northern Pacific and gained valuable nautical experience, according to his Discovery Channel bio, something that has since come in handy when he goes boating with his family. While this is all well and good, there’s more to Billy’s story that has made fans curious: his marriage to Ami.

Billy and Ami Brown's unconventional marriage

Billy Brown and Ami Brown’s marriage has sparked its fair share of controversy. While the couple remains together with their seven children, the origin story of their relationship is a little questionable.

Billy and Ami married in Tarrant County, Texas on June 16, 1979, according to Radar Online. The strange part is that Ami was only 15 at the time while Billy was 26. Texas law at the time stipulated that a woman could get married as young as 14, provided she had approval from her parents.

Ami’s mother gave permission for the marriage, but under the condition that Ami finished high school. As Screen Rant notes, shortly after Ami and Billy got married, Ami cut off all contact with her family. However, Ami has never expressed regret over her marriage and instead lauds it as a great love story. Unconventional? You betcha.

After they got married, Billy began a plumbing company in Texas, according to People, but felt it was the wrong path for him. They began traveling around and, in 1983, they sold everything they had and bought boat tickets up to Alaska with their first two sons. They had a rough go of Alaska at first but soon fell in love with it, giving Billy material to write self-published autobiographies. A producer came across Billy’s writing and pitched the idea for Alaskan Bush People, pulling Billy and his family out of remoteness and into the spotlight, and the rest is history. 

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