Kelsey Brooke De Santis was born in Burbank, CA on August 30, 1988. She grew up in Lancaster, CA with her mother, Kat, and brother, Kyle.
Kelsey grew up taking part in any and every activity from volleyball and surfing to snowboarding and motocross.
While attending school and working at Johnny Rockets in Santa Clarita at the age of 16, Kelsey started Muay Thai training and loved it right away.
Even though college scouts had been following Kelsey’s high school volleyball team, she knew she wanted to join the military and continue fighting.
Following in the footsteps of Kelsey’s Uncle Rocco and brother Kyle, she enlisted in the United States Marine Corps (USMC) in January 2007 at the age of 18.
Though she had originally planned on signing up for the Navy Corpsman program since she had never met a female Marine, a USMC recruiter let her know that while only around 6% of the Corps is made up of females, Kelsey could join and pursue martial arts.
The Marine Corps was the first time Kelsey gained any experience with ground fighting or anything other than Muay Thai. Thinking that an MOS as a Military Police (MP) Officer would be the closest to doing martial arts, Kelsey served as a K-9 MP at Marine Corps Base Quantico as part of the Presidential Helicopter Squadron (HMX-1).
As an MP, Kelsey continued to hone her martial arts skills both during work and in her spare time at Lloyd Irvin’s gym in Maryland. Around this time she met George “Loaded” Lockhart, a fellow Marine and fighter who invited Kelsey to the Martial Arts Center of Excellence (MACE), the hub of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP). A year later, Kelsey went through the MACE course to become a Martial Arts Instructor Trainer.
Becoming a member of the MACE was a dream come true for Kelsey. She couldn’t have been happier to serve under Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Shusko and train every day with some of the most inspiring and sound minded Marines. Kelsey ended her active duty while serving at the MACE in January of 2012.
Leaving the military Kelsey moved back home to Southern California and decided to use her Post 911 GI Bill. While attending Pasadena City College she apart of the veterans cohort classes, veterans organization, and most importantly the Veterans Resource Center which was centrally located on campus.