Alaskan Bush People star Billy Brown passed away on Sunday at the age of 68. Brown lived a unique life — so much so that Discovery deemed it worth documenting for reality TV. In the wake of his passing, many fans are looking back on his one-of-a-kind story.
Brown is best known as the patriarch of the Alaskan Bush People family, and fans have seen him go through trials and tribulations in real-time over the years. Die-hard fans may also know deeper aspects of his backstory before he was on TV. From his underage marriage to his travels all along the west coast, Brown insisted on doing things his own way for decades, no matter the cost.
We are devastated to hear of Billy Brown’s sudden passing.
He has been part of the @Discovery family for years - a trailblazer, a lovely man, and most definitely one of a kind. Our heart is with his family and those that knew him as they deal with this devastating loss. pic.twitter.com/23Kaz67ekz— Alaskan Bush People (@AlaskanBushPPL) February 8, 2021
Brown's passing left family, friends, colleagues and fans heartbroken this weekend. A rep for Discovery tweeted: "We are devastated to hear of Billy Brown's sudden passing. He has been part of the Discovery family for years — a trailblazer, a lovely man, and most definitely one of a kind. Our heart is with his family and those that knew him and loved him as they deal with this devastating loss."
One of Brown's sons, Bear Brown, told Instagram followers that he suffered a seizure on Sunday and never recovered. So far, other details on his passing have not been confirmed. Here is a look back on Billy Bryan Brown's life.
For many fans, the story of Alaskan Bush People begins with Billy and Ami Brown's marriage in 1979. At the time, Ami was just 15 years old while Billy was 26. However, in the state of Texas, it was legal at the time for minors to get married as long as they had consent from their parents. According to a report by Screen Rant, Ami's parents agreed to the marriage as long as she finished high school.
"She was the beautiful young woman I had ever met," Billy Brown wrote in his memoir, One Wave at a Time. He called their meeting "love at first sight."prevnext
Sadly, after the marriage, things did not continue amicably between Billy, Ami and her family. Ami reportedly stopped attending school shortly after her marriage, and then cut off all contact with her family. Her moth and brother later blamed Billy, saying that he was controlling, and refused to let his young wife have contact with her family.prevnext
Billy and Ami have seven children. Their fist, Matthew Jeremiah Brown, was born in September of 1982 when Ami was 18 years old. The births of their subsequent children were spaced out by two or three years each, with the exception of the youngest, Rainy, who was born in 2002.prevnext
Billy Brown wrote and self-published his memoir, One Wave at a Time: A True Story in 2007. The book is hard to come by these days, with few copies available on the secondhand market. For the most part, fans report that it gave them a clearer understanding of the Brown family compared to the show, though some said that it gives them a more grim perspective on Brown himself.prevnext
Fans of the show may recall Ami Brown's battle with cancer — one of the biggest tragedies the Brown family has ever faced, and certainly the biggest conflict on the show. Ami was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer in 2017, forcing the Brown family to leave their seclusion and seek treatment in California. Doctors originally predicted that she had a 3% chance of survival, but miraculously she went into remission and remains in good health to this day.prevnext
The title Alaskan Bush People is something of a misnomer now, since various legal issues forced the Brown family out of the northern-most state. They moved down to Okanogan County, Washington — another northwestern wilderness similar enough for them to call home. Even there, they faced new trials when wildfires destroyed much of their property last year. Today, the Brown family is still trying to rebuild their insular "Browntown" community.prevnext
Finally, Billy Brown is survived by a huge family — his wife, seven children, and now a total of three grandchildren. Both Noah and Gabe are now married, and Noah and his wife Rhain have one son, Eli Brown. Meanwhile, Gabe and his wife Raquell have a daughter named Sophie and a son named River. As the Brown brood continues to expand, Billy's legacy will surely live on.prev