Rising from the Ashes is a book of taking tragedy and making it victory. Billy J Brown II the author was burned in a car accident at the age of two and had survived and lived his life at the highest level and now wants to share his keys to success in your life.
When he was only 2 years old, Billy J. Brown II was trapped in the back seat of a burning vehicle and nearly killed.
“An 18-wheeler ran over our car, and I was laying on the gas tank covered in gas,” Brown said. “When they got me out of it, the car blew up.”
The Bay Minette native was left with third-degree burns on more than 65 percent of his tiny body. He was rushed to Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula and then on to Shriner’s Hospital for treatment.
“I’m fortunate to be alive,” said Brown, who was left with only one hand and permanent disfigurement to his face.
But that life-changing event was the start of his journey toward what he describes as making a “lasting impact” on the people in your life.
“As a kid I was like the story of Rudolph,” he said. “Nobody wanted me to play games with them.”
By changing his approach to others, however, Brown discovered that his appearance was soon forgotten.
“I realized how I carried myself made all the difference,” he said. “No matter what I looked like, my DNA was still the same. If I acted like it didn’t matter, if I approached them and started talking to them, they’d ask what happened and we’d start to talk.”
His mother’s determination kept him out of special education classes, he said, which were not mainstreamed at the time, and Brown still faced negative attitudes.
“Kids are curious. They ask what happened,” he said. “Adults can be more cruel. Some people would say my mom shouldn’t have me out in public. Some parents didn’t want their kids playing with me.”
He credits his parents with keeping him on track in the days when he also questioned God’s purpose for keeping him alive.
“In my teen years, I started to be regretful and mad over what happened to me; wondering why,” he said. “I realized I had to get over this.”
He played football and soccer, and ultimately graduated from Baldwin County High School and then Faulkner State Community College. He got his master’s in business administration from the University of Alabama.
“I didn’t know the purpose at the time, but I started working in the fire department, and I became a paramedic,” he said. “I worked on an ambulance. Then I went into real estate.”
Still, Brown was faced with persistent negative attitudes.
“I had one agent who told me she wasn’t sure people would want to do business with me because of my appearance,” he said. “It ended up being an asset. People recognized me. I stood out from the other 2,000 real estate agents.”
He was enjoying success until Hurricane Katrina dealt him his biggest setback.
“We had 10 rental houses in Mobile, and we went bankrupt from the debt,” he said. “I was depressed, unable to feel worthy. I felt like my wife (Melodie) shouldn’t have to be married to me. We had a 6-month-old son, and I couldn’t buy diapers for him.”
He now has two children, Conner and Caroline.
And then a meeting with motivational speaker Tony Robbins pulled Brown from his downward spiral.
“(Robbins) has a special needs section at his events, and I went over and started helping them find their seats,” Brown said. “They do a fire walk the first night, and I ended up in Tony’s lane.”
Brown walked on the hot coals, and in the end, he inspired the inspirational speaker.
“Tony wanted to interview me and meet me. He couldn’t believe a burn survivor walking on fire,” Brown said. “He told me I have the ability to be on stage and affect people. They can see I’ve overcome a lot.”
Since that time, Brown has written and self-published his first book, “Rising from the Ashes,” about overcoming life’s challenges. He works with the youth ministry at Bay Community Church in Malbis, and he gives motivational messages in schools and across the nation with Robbins.
“It was a two-year journey for me (writing the book),” he said. “The first two chapters are my story, but the rest is the keys to how I changed my life. I have a worksheet at the end of each chapter, and it’s gotten great reviews.”
The book is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble online, and he’s working on a book for teenagers.
“My heart is for the younger generation,” he said. “This summer I spoke to the Future Leaders of Mobile about what it is to be a leader. You have to stand out, and we need to restore a sense of service in America.”
Brown urges parents to slow down and take time with their teenage children, and he encourages adults to reach beyond their present situations and the troubled economy.
“My message is your past doesn’t equal your future,” he said. “I see now that God’s used what happened to me for the purpose of sharing the message.”
A Daphne resident now, Brown coaches Little League soccer and football and in his downtime he enjoys watching sports, reading and fishing.
“I still speak at Tony Robbins’ events and I’ve trained his staff,” he said. “My ultimate goal is ministering to the younger generation. I want to help others find their vision. That’s what pushes you through the hard times.”
What Others Have Said
I found the book to be inspirational. It tells the story of Billy from being severely burned as a baby to becoming a success in his life. Having met the author, it is even a greater pleasure to recommend this book to anyone who is looking for stories that show the hopeful aspect of human nature, and what we can achieve.
John O Woods Best Selling Author
Natalie Gutierrezon January 31, 2015
I was inspired by Billy's story. I couldn't put it down until I finished it! I recommended this book to everyone.
ByKindle Customeron August 28, 2015
Billy's story truly amplifies the human character!! His struggle within and the course that God lead him to is simply amazing!! I HIGHLY recommend this book to be inspired for success!!