AJ Mills, who wrestles under the name “Tray Trouble”, grew up in Hope with his mother, Bobbi Mills, raising him and his siblings.
As a child, Mills fell in love with wrestling.
“Wrestling has been in my life since I was about two years old. I grew up watching Raw, Smackdown, all the Pay-Per-Views,” Mills said. “I even broke some of my mom’s couches and tables as a kid wrestling around the house.”
Mills said that, while he may not be competing on Monday Night Raw in front of thousands of fans, he’s blessed to be able to live out a life-long dream.
“If there’s even one fan in the stands, I know I’m going to perform like there’s thousands,” Mills said.
Mills began his wrestling career with another company for a one-time engagement, but when he met Jeremy Crider and the owners of New Hope Extreme Wrestling, Mills felt like it was fate.
“It was God putting me with them. They are great friends to have,” Mills said of the group.
Since their inception, the owners and wrestlers of NHEW have done is try to reach out to younger, “at risk” teens who may be on their way into the juvenile justice system.
Mills, himself, spent a year on probation when he was younger. This led him to reevaluate what he wanted to do with his life. Deciding that he’d rather be on the other side of the justice system, he decided to go into law enforcement.
“I was in their shoes once, then I got straightened out and served for three years on the police force. That was my first dream. Wrestling had always been something I wanted to do, though. Now I’m the NHEW United States Champion,” Mills said. “There’s time to help these kids, and we’re trying to put together a program that they’d want to be a part of.”
In addition, the NHEW strives to put local charities at the forefront of their shows. Their last show raised money for Hope for Paws, and their exhibition this weekend will support Hope in Action.
“We really hope the community gets behind us and lets us give back to Hope, Arkansas,” Mills said.