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Bruce Lee’s Family: Everything We Know

June 6, 2020
4 min read

ESPN’s ’30 for 30′ looks into the life and work of Bruce Lee, through ‘Be Water.’ Bruce Lee is nothing short of a legend, who is widely known as an actor, philosopher and martial artist. He is even given credit for the philosophy that eventually inspired what we today know as MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). Additionally, he is regarded as one of the most influential martial artists throughout history. 

Furthermore, at a time when the divide between the East and the West was substantially huge, he managed to bridge it to a great degree through his martial arts. This is perhaps why he is such an influential figure in popular culture to this day. Bruce Lee was born Lee Jun Fan on November 27, 1940, in Chinatown, San Francisco. His father, Lee Hoi Chuen, was a Hong Kong opera singer, and his mother’s name was Grace Ho. The name “Bruce” is believed to have been given to him by a nurse in the hospital he was born in. When he was three months old, he starred in his first movie, ‘Golden Gate.’

Photo Credit: Bruceleefoundation.org

However, the whole family shifted back to Hong Kong in the early 1940s. At this time, Hong Kong was occupied by the Japanese. Lee was a child actor and was known to have a remarkable stage presence. He has reportedly acted in around 20 films as a child actor. In addition, he also studied dance and won Hong Kong’s cha-cha competition. As a teen, he began to study kung fu, under Master Yip Man. After this, he moved back to the US, where he worked as a dance instructor. 

Bruce Lee’s Wife 

Lee completed his schooling in Edison Washington and enrolled as a philosophy major at the University of Washington. At the time, he was also working as a martial arts teacher. He taught the Wing Chin style of martial arts, something he had learned in Hong Kong. This is where he met Linda Emery, his future wife. The two married in 1964 and eventually moved to California. 

Photo Credit: Linda Palmer/Bruceleefoundation.org

She helped him expand his martial arts schools in Oakland and Los Angeles. They had two children: Brandon Lee was born in 1965, and Shannon Lee was born in 1969. While nothing seemed wrong from the outside, there are several narratives about Bruce Lee having had multiple affairs during the course of his marriage with Linda. Some of the women he was supposedly involved with include Sharon Farrell and Betty Ting Pei. It was Ting Pei’s apartment where Bruce Lee was found unresponsive, leading up to his death. It is a hotly contested topic even today. After his death, several years later, Linda said that she was more than offended by it. 

Bruce Lee’s Children 

Shannon Emery Lee is also a martial artist, along with being an actress and a businesswoman. She made her film debut in her father’s biopic, ‘Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story.’ Since then, she has gone on to act in movies like ‘Cage II’ and ‘High Voltage.’ She is married to Anthony Ian Keasler, and the two have a daughter, named Wren Keasler. At present, she manages the Bruce Lee Foundation

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In order for me to be standing here all boss-like in front of the yellow and black, there had to be these two beautiful women in my life (next photo). Both of them, my mother and my daughter, raised me up. My mother from an infant to an adult, and my daughter from a Padawan to a Jedi. Without them I am nowhere. Don’t get me wrong, my dad and brother are my teachers but these women nurtured me in an altogether different badass way – with their own magical kung fu skills of love and courage. And guess what, y’all? The Bruce Lee Family Companies run mostly on woman power. Thank you, ladies – each and every one of you the whole world over. 🙏🏼💃🏻👑❤️⚡️💋 . . . #warriorwomen #internationalwomensday #LeeWomen #WomenofBruceLee

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Brandon Lee, grew up inspired by his father and would often accompany him to filming sites. He initially learned martial arts from his father and grew up to become an actor.

He made his acting debut in ‘Kung Fu: The Movie.’ By the 1990s, he was working with major Hollywood studios. Unfortunately, in 1992, he was accidentally shot by a prop gun during the filming of ‘The Crow.’ Though he was taken to the hospital, he succumbed to the injury and passed away. 

Read More: How Did Bruce Lee’s Son Die?

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