Brandon Vera grew up in a house of seven boys and three girls. He was born to a Filipino father, Ernesto, and an Italian mother, Amelia. He also has two other brothers and another sister outside of the family in which he was raised and they were occasionally involved in his life. Vera was born and raised in Norfolk, Virginia, and attended Lake Taylor High School where he excelled in wrestling and earned a four-year athletic scholarship to Old Dominion University. However, he dropped out of Old Dominion after a year and a half when he felt college was not for him, and enlisted himself in the United States Air Force. In the Air Force, Vera joined the wrestling team and trained at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. His military wrestling career was cut short in 1999 when he tore ligaments in his right elbow. Arthroscopic surgery repaired the ligaments, but he had nerve damage from the experience, causing him to be unable to use his right arm. He was released from the Air Force on a medical discharge.