Titus O’Neil was honored at The Rainbow PUSH Trailblazer Awards and Sports Events July 1 in Chicago. The Superstar received the Humanitarian & Community Service Award, which recognizes his significant contributions to the sports industry.
According to the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, honorees are chosen for their work serving as advocates and community leaders who partner with the sports industry to invoke the greater good on and off the field.
“This is a huge honor for many reasons,” O’Neil told WWECommunity.com. “I do what I do not because I want recognition; I do what I do because I feel it’s the right thing to do. So to get recognition for it is truly an honor. Hopefully through my continued community efforts it will get other people on board.”
O’Neil’s award nomination came from the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., the founder and president of Rainbow PUSH Coalition. The Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international membership organization fighting for social change. The Coalition’s mission is to protect, defend, and gain civil rights by leveling the economic and educational playing fields, and to promote peace and justice around the world.
“Rev. Jackson has obviously been through the Civil Rights Movement,” O’Neil said. “He’s always fought for the equality of all people, not just people of color. He’s been a man who has set goals — some he has reached, some he hasn’t — but he has continued to push to get equality among all people.”
O’Neil was also part of a sports roundtable on “The Business of Sports: Race, Diversity & Inclusion — Leveling the Playing Field on and off the Field.” During this forum, O’Neil joined the discussion on the changes and challenges within the sports world, and told stories of his experience and expertise as a college athlete, businessman and WWE Superstar.
“Being a former college athlete, a very highly touted recruit and a college graduate, I bring a perspective of being an athlete that’s gone into the business world as well as my current position as a WWE Superstar,” O’Neil explained.
“Now I’m blending business, entertainment and sports all in one. As a minority, I’m looking to hopefully give people some positive insight in regards to not only furthering their careers, but also helping to develop people around them as well when they get into a leadership position.”
O’Neil has long been actively involved with WWE’s many community and charity initiatives across the United States and around the world, including his work with the Be a STAR anti-bullying initiative in conjunction with the Creative Coalition, the Special Olympics, the Fatherhood.gov campaign, Hire Heroes USA and Susan G. Komen. He’s also branched out on his own, donating his time to charities in his home state Florida as well as on a national level.
“Some of the things I participate in regularly are working with the YMCA,” he said. “I coach a lot with kids and youth. I work with youth groups at Revealing Truth Ministries. We have so many outreach programs there for youth. I visit the elderly on a regular basis. I try to lend myself to as many organizations as possible because there was a point in which there was a lot of people who served in these organizations that helped me to grow as a man, as an individual and as a student. So I’m looking forward to continuing that effort.”
O’Neil said being selected for The Rainbow PUSH Trailblazer Award is a great honor, and he hopes leave a lasting impression on his sons, Thaddeus and Titus.
“It’s very humbling and surprising to be selected because again, I don’t do what I do for awards or accolades,” O’Neil said. “I do what I do because that’s my purpose here on Earth — it’s to help change as many lives as I possibly can, because my life was changed by other people.
“I have two sons to raise and I hope that the legacy I leave as a serviceman and a servant to other people far outweighs the legacy I leave as an athlete or entertainer, because you’re only those things for a certain period of time, but you can be a contributing body to society for your entire life if you choose to be.”
O’Neil was presented The Rainbow PUSH Trailblazer Award at the organization’s Annual Conference in Chicago on July 1. For more on the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, visit rainbowpush.org.