January is National Mentoring Month, and WWE supports Mentoring USA’s mission to create positive and supportive mentor relationships for youth ages 7 to 21, through a structured site-based model. For more information visit mentoringusa.org.
A mentor is defined as someone who is an experienced and trusted advisor, but the meaning of being a mentor far exceeds anything that can be put into words. It is much more than any physical act or time spent. It is about putting yourself out there unselfishly and making someone feel not only comfortable and confident, but also more relevant than they had prior to meeting that mentor.
When I was 13 years old, I was constantly in trouble and didn’t have much positive direction. I was a student at the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch where I met a man named Charles Frank Blalock who at the time served as the Superintendent of Schools in Suwannee County. Mr. Blalock immediately saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself: the potential to be a great man. The advice, guidance and love given to me by Mr. Blalock were priceless and his impact on my life has been undeniable.
The structure at the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch coupled with Mr. Blalock’s belief in me helped set me on a path of positive thinking and instilled a strong work ethic that I continue to exhibit to this day. As a young man who was fatherless, I had many insecurities, uncertainties and doubts about myself and my future. As a result, I made poor choices and found myself in constant trying and troubling situations. Once Mr. Blalock took me in as one of his own sons, his love and support became the ultimate trigger to my understanding, belief and confidence toward being a positive and successful individual. The Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, Mr. Blalock and many others invested in me when they didn’t have to, and it is because of this reason that I feel obligated and honored to do the same toward others.
The impact that Mr. Blalock had on me was something I felt I needed to pay forward. To have someone that did not have any biological tie to me act so selfless, compassionate and loving was tremendously powerful to me. He showed me that a stranger could become a father figure and that I could be a positive force in my community even at an early age.
I am fully aware that my life would not be as great as it is today nor would I have achieved the academic and athletic success if others had not invested their time and resources in me as a youth. Because of this, I have spent the greater part of my life working to inspire and empower others from all walks of life, especially young people. I have gone from being a child with behavioral and academic issues and living in the projects, to a college graduate, a collegiate and professional athlete, father of two remarkable boys and presently a WWE Superstar. I continue to work with various organizations, impacting many different communities both with WWE and when I am home in my free time.
With WWE I have had the wonderful opportunity to impact lives in communities across the globe, working with Be a STAR, our anti-bullying program; promoting literacy through the WrestleMania Reading Challenge; granting wishes though various wish agencies; raising funds and awareness with Susan G. Komen and supporting the Ad Council during their Fatherhood campaign along with my sons Thaddeus Jr., 10, and Titus, 8.
When I am home in Tampa, Fla., my community efforts continue. My involvement includes coaching in youth sports leagues, especially with my sons; working with the University of Florida Alumni Association; supporting various community initiatives with my church, Revealing Truth Ministries; and serving as a mentor to the young men and women at The Academy Prep Center of Tampa, where I teach a class called “Focus on Success.”
Mentoring has taught me not only the benefits of working with others, but also the importance of having other mentors in place. Our youth today are extraordinary dreamers and the future success of our communities belongs to these dreamers. It is important that we have mentors in place working to motivate, cultivate and guide these dreamers to achieve the ultimate greatness that lies within them. Consistency is the key to breakthrough in all aspects of life. We need to assure that positive mentoring in our communities is constant and consistent to better our chances of a powerful and positive breakthrough to our youth today, tomorrow and forever.